The lexicon of the conductor’s gaze

This is work presents two studies investigating the existence of a lexicon of gaze in conducting, and its possible different mastery in musicians and laypeople.
An observational qualitative study singled out 17 items of gaze used by Conductors in music rehearsal and concert, conveying interactional, affective and musical meanings to musicians in the ensemble, and exploiting four semiotic devices: the Conductor may use the same gaze types as laypeople and with the same meaning (generic codified), or with meaning more specific of musical performance (specific codified), and directly or indirectly iconic gaze items. In a subsequent perceptual study, 8 of the gaze items singled out were submitted to 177 between musicians and naïf subjects asking them to interpret their meanings through open and closed questions. Results show that some gaze items, especially those conveying intensity (piano, forte) and other technical indications (high note, attack) are fairly recognized; yet, no significant differences result between expert and naïf subjects. Gaze constitutes a lexicon also in music performance and exploits the same semiotic devices as gaze in everyday life.


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