are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
User avatar
Christopher Freitag
Posts: 608
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:46 pm
Location: New York, USA

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Christopher Freitag » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:08 pm

I had the chance to see Pavel Steidl play this past weekend. A lot has been said about his expressions and I was a little dubious about the whole idea. But I loved his performance and found his expressions to be both an essential and enjoyable part of the experience. Having had the chance to spend some time with him before and after his performance I can say that, far from being an affectation, his physical expression is a perfect match to his big warm personality.

The thing that I do NOT like to see is a performer who makes the music seem difficult by scowling, wincing, etc. But in that case, I just close my eyes and hope that the sound does not convey those same feelings.
Chris Freitag

2013 German Vasquez Rubio Concert Special "Bernardi"; German spruce/Brazilian rosewood
2014 Garrett (Gary) Lee spruce/cedar double top; Brazilian rosewood

Joe de V
Posts: 1853
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:34 am
Location: Northern California USA

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Joe de V » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:12 am

Have anyone here ever watch on TV a heavy weights lifting contest? I attended a small venue concert for featuring stringed instruments where the guitar was represented / played as a solo by a "self-made musician" - the presenter words in his introduction. To make a long story short this was the must painful experience I have ever felt while watching a guitar player. This adult gentleman appear to be struggling - like a weight lifter trying to lift a bar with 600 pounds of weight. I could not concentrate in watching his hands playing due to the face distortions and expressions of this person while "'EXCECUTING" Ernesto Lecuona's "Malaguena" Had Mr. Lecuona being in attendance he would have attempted to have this man arrested. Sine Mr. Lecuona is dead, I suspect that as the saying goes...He would have turned over in his grave.
What Benefit I Learned from this experience?
Never Play In Public Any musical piece Unless you have learned to play it in a relaxed and skillful manner. If you are anticipating a public performance Practice Over an Over - If possible in front of a mirror to review your "body language"

mc1

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by mc1 » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:48 am

i can't but help feel that a lot these performers are entranced with their fretting hand.

graceman
Posts: 273
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:44 am
Location: Århus - Denmark

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by graceman » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:23 am

There are gestures - and there are gestures...
Used with care it can complete the total expression of a performance. It should never be used just to say "look what I can do" - or "Ooh how I FEEL this"

But another point is that in some cases a wellplaced gesture can actually help you technically. You could say it helps you "connect your body to the guitar"
An example: going from 10. fret to 2. fret while lifting your left arm freely in the air while shifting position can help you relax if you feel a little tense from playing. (Provided you have the time for it off-course)
"..don't be afraid to miss a note. Being afraid is the only way you are sure to miss it.."

User avatar
Peter Lovett
Posts: 984
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:35 am
Location: Hobart Australia

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Peter Lovett » Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:01 am

Intentional gestures & expressions = false musicianship.

Unintended gestures & expressions = true musicianship

Terrible word but I can't think of something better to be able to precisely express what I feel.
1994 Jim Williams lattice braced, Cedar/Tasmanian Blackwood

User avatar
Paul Janssen
Posts: 1506
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:05 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Paul Janssen » Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:48 am

Christopher Freitag wrote:I had the chance to see Pavel Steidl play this past weekend. A lot has been said about his expressions and I was a little dubious about the whole idea. But I loved his performance and found his expressions to be both an essential and enjoyable part of the experience. Having had the chance to spend some time with him before and after his performance I can say that, far from being an affectation, his physical expression is a perfect match to his big warm personality.

The thing that I do NOT like to see is a performer who makes the music seem difficult by scowling, wincing, etc. But in that case, I just close my eyes and hope that the sound does not convey those same feelings.
+1 from me. When I had the privilege of seeing Pavel play live a couple of years ago I was drawn into his whole performance and I attribute his expressions and gestures as being a big part of this. Of course he's an amazing player so the whole "package" was spot on. You are so luck to have had the chance to meet him and spend time with him. Whilst I have not met him, I do imagine he would be a very warm and friendly person.

User avatar
Cloth Ears
Posts: 501
Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 9:37 am

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Cloth Ears » Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:53 am

No pretences, just empty your mind and listen to what your fingers produce. If gurning results, then so be it.

:-D :) :( :-o :shock: :-? 8) :roll: :wink:

Polifemo de Oro

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:04 pm

What about heavy breathing?

User avatar
markodarko
Posts: 1879
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:41 pm
Location: Leyenda-On-Sea

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by markodarko » Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:01 pm

Polifemo de Oro wrote:What about heavy breathing?
Thanks for the offer, Mr. P, but I'm ok just eating my sandwich right now.
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

roscoetuff

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by roscoetuff » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:53 pm

I like jazz musicians who either look at their feet and let the sound speak for them, or those whose ebullient joy overflows out... and lots in-between. Seems to me the music is front and center, and if I notice the musician, something's either wrong with the music, or I can't remember who's playing and I really need to check them out... 'cause it's soooo excellent. Really looking forward to the fading of M-TV's impact and the sense that a performer needs to writhe like a nymph in mid tryst whole somehow squeezing out music as a byproduct. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder... and my ear don't see so good.

Scot Tremblay
Luthier
Posts: 4217
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:18 pm
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:59 pm

Here's a video of a young fellow whose gestures and facial expressions are tastefully and naturally included to enhance the performance rather than distract from it...of course, I accept that this is only my opinion and others may or may not agree.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d38sc49Vg4M
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

Sprucetop
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 3:36 am
Location: Twin Cities, MN

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Sprucetop » Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:36 pm

Great topic! Personally I find exaggerated gestures distracting when I watch a performer. As has been pointed out, however, as a listener, the answer is simple- just close your eyes! I do find it interesting, however, that a performer is often perceived to be more expressive if they move a lot/have facial ticks etc. I recently saw a youtube post where the guy was swaying about so much I was getting sea-sick just watching. Not that the playing was bad though, just that the comments all related to how 'expressive' he was! I actually wonder if players like John Williams get unfairly criticized for the opposite reason, as poised and still as he is when playing. My preference is to keep as still as possible, as guitar playing involves primarily fine motor skills/small muscle groups and I feel that large body or hand movements are unnecessary and could even be counter-productive.
"Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart." Shinichi Suzuki

Mick the Ramirez Man

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Mick the Ramirez Man » Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:13 pm

I used to have a bad habit of smirking when I made a mistake; still have to watch myself. But, no. Gestures and expressions are not necessary for Classical Guitarists. However, they can be helpful when in a band as a means to communicate with one another in a limited way not obvious to the audience. :smorfia:

User avatar
Erik Zurcher
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 16764
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:38 pm
Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:24 pm

Christopher Freitag wrote:I had the chance to see Pavel Steidl play this past weekend. A lot has been said about his expressions and I was a little dubious about the whole idea. But I loved his performance and found his expressions to be both an essential and enjoyable part of the experience. Having had the chance to spend some time with him before and after his performance I can say that, far from being an affectation, his physical expression is a perfect match to his big warm personality....
Pavel Steidl is a unique artist and a charming personality. When his facial expressions start during a concert (usually after two pieces), you know he is enjoying himself and he mesmerizes his audience.
Reedition Domingo Esteso by Conde Hermanos 2004; Kenny Hill, model Barcelona 2001
"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

Bob
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:20 pm

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Bob » Sat Jun 06, 2015 8:24 pm

I can't stand the over the top gestures but if it's uncontrollable it's hard to criticise someone for it. I'm sure I look like a fool playing. Saying that, there's a good few out there who I can't believe don't put it on.

Return to “Public Space”