1st Edition

Embodied Knowledge in Ensemble Performance

By J. Murphy McCaleb Copyright 2014
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    Performing in musical ensembles provides a remarkable opportunity for interaction between people. When playing a piece of music together, musicians contribute to the creation of an artistic work that is shaped through their individual performances. However, even though ensembles are a large part of musical activity, questions remain as to how they function. In Embodied Knowledge in Ensemble Performance, Murphy McCaleb explores the processes by which musicians interact with each other through performance. McCaleb begins by breaking down current models of ensemble interaction, particularly those that rely on the same kind of communication found in conversation. In order to find a new way of describing this interaction, McCaleb considers the nature of the information being shared between musicians during performance. Using examples from postgraduate ensembles at Birmingham Conservatoire as well as his own reflective practice, he examines how an understanding of the relationship between musicians and their instruments may affect the way performers infer information within an ensemble. Drawing upon research from musicology, occupational psychology, and philosophy, and including downloadable resources of excerpts from rehearsals and performances, Embodied Knowledge provides an holistic approach to ensemble research in a manner accessible to performers, researchers and teachers.

    A question of ensemble; Beyond communication; A question of content; The process of performance; Reaction and inter-reaction; Reflecting on musical knowledge; Bibliography; Index.


    J. Murphy McCaleb received his doctorate in performance studies from Birmingham Conservatoire after studying trombone performance and chamber music at the University of Alaska and the University of Michigan. A bass trombonist and pianist, Murphy lectures and is Programme Leader for Creative Industries at Kidderminster College.

    '...the book is exemplary in its scholarship and an invaluable addition to the literature on musical performance' Scottish Journal of Performance

    'Embodied Knowledge in Ensemble Performance is clearly and logically written and draws upon an impressively broad range of research and literature to form the premise for the author’s proposed paradigm of ensemble interaction. McCaleb strongly establishes his contention that ensemble performance is distinct from other social paradigms due to music being a singular form of procedural knowledge'. Philosophy of Music Education Review

    '… a timely and valuable contribution to this ever-expanding field… The greatest contribution of McCaleb’s paradigm of inter-reaction is the emphasis placed on the crucial role of embodied knowledge in shaping ensemble performance, which other frameworks have not accounted for. Future work in the field will benefit from this framework and the new directions set forth here. With a clear structure, careful introduction to its various concepts, and great depth of inquiry, this is an essential text for scholars of all levels with an interest in ensemble performance'. Musicae Scientiae