Metaphorical Usage in the Rehearsal Communication of two Professional String Quartets
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AbstractWhile there have been earlier studies on the role of metaphor in music analysis and cognition, the extant research has focused exclusively on writings about music. This paper reports on the preliminary outcome of an on-going research collaboration between three researchers and two professional string quartets, the Hong Kong-based Romer String Quartet and the Japan-based Quartet Excelsior. Our research integrates ethnographic-documentary and critical-analytical approaches in unprecedented ways. Its methodology is grounded in both theoretical perspectives drawn from music theory, ethnomusicology and linguistics, and empirical interview and audiovisual rehearsal data for both ensembles collected between September 2014 and June 2017.

We approach metaphorical usage in the discourse of string quartet rehearsal from four inter-related perspectives. First, using George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s theoretical framework of conceptual metaphor (1980) as a starting point, we view metaphorical language as indicative of metaphorical conceptualization, a process by which a target domain (here music) is understood in terms of the entities, properties and relations of a source domain drawn from everyday human perceptions and actions. Thus, analysis of the metaphors used by professional practicing musicians can be a means to access how they understand abstract musical concepts in terms of concrete, embodied experiences. Second, we examine agential ascriptions implied by the players’ metaphorical usage, and argue that the act of performance not only realises potentially agential elements within the musical work, but also create levels of agency beyond the score. Third, we study the metaphors as rhetorical devices and aim to discover how they serve specific discursive needs. Finally, we consider the interactions between verbal and non-verbal modes of communication in rehearsal, and hypothesize that speech and gesture serve as complementary modes of expressing conceptual metaphors about musical events and and processes.

In developing a new critical paradigm for how performers create (rather than merely reveal) musical structure by way of metaphorical mediation, we also propose a redefinition of the meaning of structure in performance and prompt the assessment and refinement of current analytical and pedagogical methods in music theory. We hope our interdisciplinary methodology will be of interest to scholars, performers, and teachers alike.
All Author(s) ListSu Yin Mak, Hiroko Nishida, Daisuke Yokomori
Name of ConferenceTogether in Music: Expression, Performance and Communication in Ensembles
Start Date of Conference12/04/2018
End Date of Conference14/04/2018
Place of ConferenceYork
Country/Region of ConferenceGreat Britain
Year2018
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordsstring quartet, metaphor, music ethnography, discourse analysis

Last updated on 2018-04-06 at 12:17