Expressive bodily movement in a piano trio, observed in individual practice, group rehearsal and performance contexts

Sharon Chung

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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In chamber music performance, an effective interaction and communication between co-performers is of paramount importance to create a successful ensemble. Through research into body movement in solo performance, it has been shown that bodily movement has a significant role in expressing and conveying musical ideas. Research on ensemble performance also reports that visual cues play an important part in coordinating and conveying musical ideas between co-performers. However, relatively little attention has been given to the role of bodily communication in ensemble performance. Hence, this thesis seeks to understand the use of expressive bodily movements in creating an effective ensemble performance.
As the author is a pianist, a piano trio has been chosen for an investigation. Particularly, the study focuses on the pianist examining solo practice and group rehearsals as well as performance in order to gain a fuller understanding of the use of expressive movements in these different contexts. Solo practice and ensemble rehearsal are examined to investigate how the pianist shifts from solo to ensemble contexts in employing bodily movements for expressive effect. Also three courses of practices and rehearsals are selected to analyse the development of expressive bodily movement in the use of musical expression and interaction between co-performers. Analysis revealed that in the solo context, expressive movements are closely related to the expression of musical ideas, particularly to the contour of musical line. In the ensemble context, some of the same movements from the solo also appeared in the ensemble specifically assisting the coordination between co-performers. In addition, the coordination was successfully achieved through providing, receiving, synchronising and transferring the coordinative cues based on the leadership of the performers which occasionally changed according to the musical material. In consequence of the unique layout of the piano trio – where the piano is positioned at the back of the string players – glancing, which has been reported in the research literature to be significant in the interaction between the co-performers in ensemble performance, is largely limited. Therefore, larger bodily movements are revealed to be fundamental in achieving an effective coordination between the co-performers in the piano trio.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


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