Deepening Musical Performance through Movement

Deepening Musical Performance through Movement

The Theory and Practice of Embodied Interpretation
Alexandra Pierce
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/26/2010
Format: Paperback 90 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22223-7
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Alexandra Pierce singles out elements of music such as melody, meter, and phrase, and investigates the defining quality of each through movement. Although simple, these exercises engage the listening attention in complex ways and can be integrated into a musician’s daily practice. Practicing movements that accurately reflect a musical element can improve technique and are audible in performance. They become part of your technical command. Short narratives that illustrate how performance practice problems can be approached and solved are scattered throughout the book. A video companion to Deepening Musical Performance through Movement can be found at the author’s website,

Author Bio

Alexandra Pierce is Professor of Music and Movement, Emerita Research Professor at the University of Redlands, California. She is author (with Roger Pierce) of Expressive Movement: Posture and Action in Daily Life, Sports, and the Performing Arts.


“Helping musicians gain a richer understanding of music through the use of the body and gesture, the author asserts that expression in music corresponds to expression in physical gesture, offering advice that contributes to hearing and performing this core quality of music in order to help musicians integrate it into daily practice.”

“This book is not only a wonderful resource for therapists, musicians and music teachers, but also . . . a well-researched academic work.Vol. 37.2 June 2009”
 — Carolyn Pike, University of North Texas

“From this [book] . . . we receive these two gifts . . . a compostional repertoire distinct in imaginative focus and a pedagogy with wide application to music making and full of implications for research.Issue 10 Fall 2008”
 — David Lidov, The Open Space Magazine

“Whether you teach private or group instrumental or vocal lessons, music theory, composition, music therapy or music appreciation, you will find a wealth of ideas to use with your students.”
 — American Music Teacher

“This book brings all aspects of music to life via kinesthetic understanding. . . . Pierce's extensive research is obvious, but though the book assumes considerable knowledge of the discipline, personal anecdotes and musical references render it relatively easy to digest.”
 — Choice

“Because of her varied and extensive experience as a movement specialist, theorist, performer, teacher, and composer, Pierce is an unusually effective and articulate advocate for an embodied musical understanding . . . While performers probably have readier access to this kind of connection with a piece of music, Pierce’s impressive achievement is to provide an effective way for theorists, too, to develop and deepen their embodied connection with the music that they analyze. ”

“The book is wonderful . . . My hope is that the book will be a doorway for many more musicians and music lovers into an exploration of the world of movement as a tool for musical growth, both as performer and listener.”
 — Music Theory Online

“[This] book is expressively written and brimming with imaginative ideas. It is not a book to read while sitting still!”
 — Journal of the International Alliance of Women in Music

“Under the impetus of early influences as diverse as the Alexander technique, Rolfing, Schenkerian analysis and Stanislavski's Method acting. . . pianist, composer and music educator Alexandra Pierce has crystallized in this book a finely etched, lifetime quest to articulate the connection between the elements of music and the art of interpretation, through the prism of 'movement response to the music'.May 2009”
 — American String Teacher

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Table of Contents

1. Vitalizing the Musical Elements, One by One
2. Mobilizing Balance
3. Melody Awakened: Seven Stages for Embodying Its Contour
4. Resilience of Meter and Rhythm
5. The Integration of Structural Levels
6. Shaping Phrase with Span and Climax
7. Letting Gesture Through: Reverberation
8. The Movements of Juncture
9. Characterizing
10. Tone of Voice
11. The Spirit of Play

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