“Leading” as a mode of interaction and communication in contemporary music performance-practice


  • Maria Puusaari




eleet, johtaminen, kamarimusiikki, kommunikaatio, nykymusiikki


In this paper, I discuss “leading” in the performance-practice of contemporary music. First, I take a brief view on the development of music from the second half of the 20th century until today to highlight some of the challenges of leading the contemporary music repertoire. I survey existing research on interaction, communication and leadership in ensemble playing and use this viewpoint to briefly explore aspects of leadership and other roles in playing in a contemporary chamber ensemble without a conductor. Finally, I describe my own practice of leading as a violinist through three case studies in the contemporary music repertoire. Based on Leman’s theory of expressive alignment and enactment processes (2016), I approach leading as a multimodal, crossmodal and multidirectional interactive process. I divide leading into temporal and expressive leading techniques that are used to communicate different temporal and expressive musical features. I argue that leading techniques must be practiced and embedded in body language as separate, instrument-specific playing techniques. In addition to leading techniques, I provide temporal, sensorimotor, acoustical, instrument-specific and socio-cultural aspects that affect leading practices.

Kirjoittajan esittely

Maria Puusaari

Violinist Maria Puusaari is an artistic doctoral student in the DocMus Doctoral School at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. Her research topic is leading in the performance-practice of contemporary music. Puusaari is a member of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Uusinta Ensemble.






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