Performance Inquiry and Cognitive Science: A Search for Common Ground

October 1, 2008


The last decade has offered a surge in scholarship on music performance. Scholars interested in music performance can draw from a range of perspectives. Ethnomusicologists examine the performed activity of music1 as a social and cultural discourse.2 Musicologists examine the performance histories of musical works,3 performance as critique of musical content,4 and performance as a form of semiotic self-awareness.5 Music theorists have been interested in the relationship of analysis to performance.6 Creativity theorists examine performance from a systems perspective,7 drawing on widely interdisciplinary methodologies and perspectives to understand musical creativity and interaction.

While most performance scholarship is written in the third person, Janet Schmalfeldt and Naomi Cumming engage their "performing selves" in their scholarly writing. Schmalfeldt, a pianist, brings her performing self in conversation with her analytical self through a detailed comparative analysis of Beethoven's "Bagatelles" Op. 126 Nos. 2 and 5. While Schmalfeldt's Analyst and Performer are heavily steeped in the product-oriented, structuralist traditions8 associated with Western Art Music (WAM), her Performer realizes that a range of performance choices can be made in response to analytical findings. An analysis can dictate what not to do, but not what to do.9 The Performer and Analyst, in Schmalfeldt's view, cooperate in the common task of revealing new and better understandings of musical works. Cumming, a violinist, unpacks her process of semiotic self-awareness in rising to perform musical works. Rather than seeking deeper analytical understandings of the music she performs, Cumming seeks a deeper understanding of her Self through her process of embodying the music she performs. Both Schmalfeldt and Cumming work to reconcile the aims of scholarly inquiry with the aims of music performance. For Cumming, musical meaning (of a reflexive nature) is revealed through the gestures employed in shaping musical sound. For Schmalfeldt, musical structure provides a territory through which both Performer and Analyst can reveal the "essence"10 of a musical work.

The tension between performance and scholarship is also made explicit in ethnomusicological participant observation research. John Miller Chernoff11 raised this question in the context of his experiences learning Ewe and Dagomba drumming in Africa, where he abandoned his scholarly aims and delved completely into the experience of making music. He felt that a total immersion in the musical training would teach him more about African culture than a systematic social-scientific observation. Once back in America, however, he faced the task of writing about his experiences. He realized that the aims of art and science were different, but nevertheless felt it was worthwhile to shed scholarly light on artistic practice. Chernoff comments:

conveying my experiences with African music through the heritage of our traditions of understanding seemed to offer an opportunity not only to expand the relevance of what I had learned as an individual but also to indicate my sense of how those traditions can respond to the challenge of such an undertaking.12

Chernoff felt that social science could help him to more deeply understand and portray the artistic practice of music-making in African culture. But he also felt that the process of applying social science to the experience of music making would deepen his experience as a drummer. He used "personal anecdotes and accounts of [his] African teachers both to convey an impression of the social setting of African musical life and to document the influence which [his] own experiences had on how [he] arrived at [his] perspective."13

Methodological Issues in the Social Science of Music Performance

In the context of interview research, Steinar Kvale14 contrasts two metaphors for the role of the researcher—as miner or traveler. In the "miner" metaphor, the researcher is understood to be digging for "nuggets of data or meanings out of a subject's pure experience."15 The miner digs for meaning in the data. His findings are viewed as materials and evaluated on their degree of purity through objective methods of questioning and analysis. The "traveler" metaphor, on the other hand, represents the researcher as one who "wanders with" subjects, engaging in conversations that eventually lead to stories. Stories from the traveler are evaluated with respect to their explanatory power, through their "impact on the listeners,"16 and through the variety of perspectives that are revealed in the telling. Whereas the miner's identity does not change, the traveler is transformed through the process of interacting with the data.17 The miner and traveler "represent different concepts of knowledge formation."18 The miner views knowledge as "given"; the traveler views knowledge as understanding arising from context, process, and conversation. The miner's findings are evaluated based on the truths they represent; the traveler's on the levels of insight and depth. The kinds of knowledge represented in the following two passages can be viewed as examples of the traveler and miner metaphors as they are found in writing about music performance. The first passage demonstrates a traveler's understanding of character, culture, and experience upon viewing a blues performance; the second demonstrates a miner's understanding of the role of body motion in music performance.

The first example is an excerpt from "Sonny's Blues," a short story written by James Baldwin.19 In the excerpt, taken from the end of the story, Baldwin describes, through the narrative voice of Sonny's brother, layers of performance interaction on stage. Sonny's struggles with drug addiction, jail, and a crisis of identity are revealed in his musical performance through the deeply introspective eyes of his brother, seated in the audience. The narrator's introductory statement expresses Baldwin's philosophical stance on music perception:

All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.

A performer, he seems to be saying, is charged with the task of giving form to the unspeakable depths of his experience, and in so doing, if he succeeds, he brings his audience with him through a process of transformation. But the audience may not completely comprehend the depth of the transformation involved in giving form to the unspeakable. This transformation can only be accessed through the experience of performing, or through considerable reflection on performance. Through Sonny's brother, Baldwin walks the reader through the process of transformation by describing the subtle interactions of the musicians onstage.

Before citing the passage, I would like to explain to the reader why such a long segment of literary prose is relevant in this context. Baldwin's deep observations reveal layers of performance knowledge that range from low-level description to higher-level reflection on the plot and characters. Baldwin uses physical description and narrative to reveal the experiential realities of his characters. His traveler's representation of this musical performance is to be evaluated for its explanatory power. He emphasizes the layers of insight rather than the means for gathering lower level "factual" descriptions.

Sonny hadn't been near a piano for over a year. And he wasn't on much better terms with his life, not the life that stretched before him now. He and the piano stammered, started one way, got scared, stopped; started another way, panicked, marked time, started again; then seemed to have found a direction, panicked again, got stuck. And the face I saw on Sonny I'd never seen before. Everything had been burned out of it, and, at the same time, things usually hidden were being burned in, by the fire and fury of the battle which was occurring in him up there.

Yet, watching Creole's face as they neared the end of the first set, I had the feeling that something had happened, something I hadn't heard. Then they finished, there was scattered applause, and then, without an instant's warning, Creole started into something else, it was almost sardonic, it was Am I Blue. And, as though he commanded, Sonny began to play. Something began to happen. And Creole let out the reins. The dry, low, black man said something awful on the drums, Creole answered, and the drums talked back. Then the horn insisted, sweet and high, slightly detached perhaps, and Creole listened, commenting now and then, dry, and driving, beautiful, calm and old. Then they all came together again, and Sonny was part of the family again. I could tell this from his face. He seemed to have found, right there, beneath his fingers, a damn brand-new piano. It seemed that he couldn't get over it. Then, for a while, just being happy with Sonny, they seemed to be agreeing with him that brand-new pianos certainly were a gas.

Baldwin's role as researcher20 and author is to tell us a story that demonstrates the inner change and development of the narrator as a witness to the performance; that describes Sonny as performer with a troubled past; and that explains the significance of blues performance in the cultural crisis of the African American male in the 1950's. Through reading this passage, the audience gains insight into the connection between body motion and the experience of transformation through performing and listening to live music.

We can compare Baldwin's text with a passage by Jane Davidson21 to further illustrate how the miner and traveler metaphors differ in key areas of knowledge cultivation and presentation of findings. It is from her article, "Communicating with the Body in Performance," which is part of a collection of scholarly essays intended to inform practice. Notice the mining language which I have placed in italics:

A lengthy case study of a single pianist by Jane Davidson (1991) attempted to decode the movements used in performance and determine what information these movements might be transmitting from the performer to the audience. In summary, it was discovered that for the pianist, an expressively intentioned performance always involved an overall, circular and swaying movement on his part. Generally, these cyclical movements were expressive, but there were certain moments within them that were more expressive than others. Indeed, there seemed to be a correlation between expressivity rating made by audiences and the specific kind of movement being used at that moment. Several identifiable gestures were found: hand and arm lifts and depressions of varying degrees ranging from lavish, circular gestures to small wrist rotations; a `wiggling' of the shoulder blades; and forward and backward head nods and shakes. All movements, including the all-encompassing swaying, were found to emanate from the hip region. Given the pianist's sitting position, it was theorized that the hips represented the fulcrum for his centre of gravity, therefore providing the pivotal point for all upper torso movements. This centre of gravity seemed to be the central location for the generation of physical expression.

One-to-one correspondences were sought between the gestures used by the pianist and specific moments in the musical structure, but it was discovered that these gestures were employed in a fairly flexible way, so on repeat performances with similar expressive intentions, a head nod might have appeared where a shoulder "wiggle" previously existed. However, it was also discovered that such gestures always appeared at the same points in the music, suggesting a strong link between the physical production of expression and its correlated expressive sound effect. For instance, there would always be a gesture at a phrase boundary of climax, though it would vary from performance to performance.22

Davidson presents knowledge about performance as "discovered" through objective observation. She is fulfilling the role of miner, seeking to bring objective truths about practice into a format intended to inform performers about ensemble coordination. The observations made by Davidson remain largely at the surface level—facts about motion in correlation with a musical score. The audience reports on perceived expressiveness, not on the nature of what was expressed, the environment in which it was performed, or how the music made them feel. Baldwin, on the other hand, reaches into the depths of his characters to reveal motivations, experiences, and transformations, at both the personal and cultural levels in the performance and creation of musical sound.

The Traveling Instrumentalist

I am trained in a performance tradition that emphasizes physicality and introspection. My experiences as a bassoonist cause me to value the depth of insight and observational power of the traveler more than the objectivist findings of the miner. As a performer, I am drawn to observe and listen for the physical aspects of presentation23 and the subtle realms of interaction. However, whereas Baldwin uses his observations of music performance to shed light on cultural identity and personal growth, my observations remain in the realm of embodied musical expertise. I listen, with a physically trained ear, for insight into the process of performing, the experience of music-making, and the dynamics of interaction between musicians. I listen within the music for insight into my own music making.

Consider the following observations I made of a video-taped dress rehearsal for a performance of Toru Takemitsu's Masque for Two Flutes:

"M" is in position on stage when the camera is turned on. He is playing an A and some surrounding notes in a lick that he uses to test his sound in the hall. "J" strides into view from the back of the stage, casually tosses her polishing cloth on a podium to the right of the screen, brings her flute to her face, and, looking at "M", repeats his warm-up lick, as if to say, "right back at you." She does this whole display straight-faced, coming into view with a casual professional stature, not overly proud, just comfortably in the game. The mimicry is her greeting to "M", as if to say, "I hear you; I'm in the game; `I can do what you can do'."

Once this exchange is over, they begin to tune. "M" pops out a quick staccato A before "J" has a chance to make a sound. When he hears her slightly lower A, he pulls out his head joint before playing again. After playing her A with a full sound, "J", seeing "M" adjust his head joint, says, "hang on, I'm pretty far out." "M" plays at his new position, and then "J" pushes her head joint in a bit to find a middle ground. After they are satisfied that the lower octave is in tune, they turn to the higher octave, where "M" once again pulls out.

On the surface, tuning seems to be about how far to pull out or push in a head joint. However, the flutists are adjusting their bodies to suit the response of their instruments, the tone coming from the other flutist, and the resonance of the hall. Tuning is as much about "feel" as it is about sound, about grounding in the moment. Their feet are planted firmly on the ground, their bodies in the most stable, neutral position. They face each other. "M" stands very still; "J" rotates her upper body from right to left several times as she holds her tone. She feels for the vibrations, responding with her support and embouchure as she moves. She is testing her sonic space next to "M" on stage. The recital hall makes this a flattering process, since the sound in this hall is automatically live and full. They are checking in with that liveness to see how it feels today. If it feels good, the show will succeed. If it doesn't, the performance will be tough slogging.

Tuning brings them together, transforming them from two individuals playing at the same time into an ensemble making sound. The sounds they are making to connect must mesh from the fundamental through the whole range of upper partials. They feel through their bodies where the fundamental is grounded.24 They adjust posture, air support, and embouchure to bring their sounds into the same sound world. Tuning is about coming together, connecting through the vibrations of breath spiraling through metal, meshing in the air space around them. J's earlier greeting, "I can do what you can do," was in effect making light of this process of deep inner connection, making it all part of the game of being a performer before an important show.

My presence in the above text could be characterized as that of a "traveling instrumentalist." Like the Kvale's traveler, the traveling instrumentalist engages in reflexivity in her research design: she allows her experiential knowledge of performance to shine through her structured observations of performers; she tests her observations with her performance experience; she shifts her understanding of performance to accommodate her observations. What follows is an attempt to characterize important aspects of musical understanding that are cultivated through traditional means.

Foundations for Studying Cognition in Music Performance

Often labeled "mystical" or "intuitive," performance knowledge has not yet been systematically explored, conceptualized, debated, or discussed as a field of knowledge. Please remember that throughout this discussion I am not referring to a new way for us to think about performance in relation to musical objects (works), as many others have done previously in the discourses of musicology and music theory. Instead, I believe the time has come for us, as performer-scholars, to move beyond an exclusive focus on the musical work and the demands it makes on us. We need a more inclusive model of the cognitive strategies underlying expert performance, a model in which the role of the musical work is kept in perspective. I believe the time has come for a new branch of scholarly inquiry that paints a more complete picture of what we do as musicians—and, by extension, of who we are.

I "know" music through many layers of interaction (with my instrument, with myself, with my colleagues, with my audience). For example, I know middle C as a left hand responsibility. My personal goal is to play middle C with a full sound. Middle C requires twice as much breath pressure as the C an octave below. As a result, my embouchure must compensate for the increased pressure by opening up, not biting. I know middle C is in tune when my body is energized, but not tense, and I feel the resonance in my mouth, chest, and hands. If I am tense, the pitch will be high. If I am slack, it will be flat. If I am playing middle C in an orchestra, say, on the last note of a C major symphony that ends on the tonic in root position, I am probably playing first bassoon, not second. I anchor my pitch inside the tones of those who are playing an octave or two below me. It is their job to set the pitch for the rest of the ensemble. I listen downward; my C is a shade of color added to that of the basses, cellos, and second bassoon. My C should not draw attention to itself. I feel and perform its function in relation to what goes on around me.

Narrow and Broad Perspectives on Music Cognition

The act of playing middle C on the bassoon encompasses not only attention to different dimensions of musical structure (harmony and texture) but also intonation, coordination, and expressive character (shade of added color, not drawing attention to itself). It is fair to say that while performance normally involves attention to musical structure and musical interaction in real time, analytical writing often limits attention to structure alone, and may involve a level of abstraction that exceeds the capabilities of real-time processing.25 When we perform, we are engaged in a broader range of cognitive tasks, all at once, than when we write a formalist analysis. I emphasize writing here because it is in the writing stage that analysis becomes especially narrowly focused. When we are engaged in the cognitive act of analysis, the experience can be just as rich as in a performance.

A further distinction between the narrow and the broad perspective on music cognition introduced above can be drawn from the literature on embodied cognition, the cognition of expertise, situated cognition, and cognition in lived experience. Performing music involves what is sometimes called "online" cognitive processing or "smooth coping." This model of cognitive processing is not based on reasoning; rather, it is based on interaction. In Michael Wheeler's formulation:

it would seem to be mysterious why our experience of smooth coping contains no subjects and no objects, and no experience of having thought about and planned each movement, if what is actually chugging away "underneath" that experience is a Cartesian system of internally located knowledge-based reasoning algorithms that produce planned sequences of movements by drawing inferences from a detailed perceptual model of an external world of objects. Any subagential [unconscious] explanation that turned on the presence of such states and mechanisms would be phenomenologically off-key, and thus worthy of suspicion.26

Wheeler is suspicious of the "Cartesian system" because it does not seem intuitively plausible as a model for cognition in lived experience. Generations of scholars in the Western tradition have asserted that good performance is a product of theorizing about and analyzing music. Clearly, Wheeler disagrees.

However, there is a vast literature that recognizes the necessity of something beyond reason in the highest achievements of music, whether it is in performance or composition or improvisation. The idea of genius as creating its own rules (or finding unprecedented connections among things) is basic to European aesthetics. The emphasis on rationality extends only to the attempt to explain results, treated as things: texts, artifacts. If you press most music scholars, they will say that there are ineffable, inexplicable aspects of musical activity at the highest level that can only be generated or even appreciated in some holistic, imaginative way. Reconciling this aesthetic perspective on performance with the cognitive-empirical approach requires that the mechanisms that underlie the former be made sufficiently explicit so as to generate predictions that could be validated through observation of performance. The reliance on "the mysterious" as an explanation for cognitive processing in music performance would seem to leave Wheeler, and others like him, unsatisfied.

Correspondingly, although many instrumentalists have been trained to speak from the same aesthetic perspective as that mentioned above, teaching performance at the highest level requires that this, or any other aesthetic perspective, be realized in specific instructional techniques. For example, Stephen Maxym once told me, "My dear, when I am through with you, you will be able to play anything the conductor ever asks of you." His confidence in his ability to impart all of the necessary skills for performing suggests that for him performing music at the highest level was not some ineffable, inexplicable achievement. Indeed, there was no mystery in learning to play the bassoon at all. Every minute detail of experience was accounted for and practiced until the musical activity that took place "online" was a highly skilled communicative interaction.

Performance "Mysticism"

"Where there's mystery, there's no mastery."—Yogi Bhajan

I studied with four different bassoon teachers in the course of my undergraduate degree. Each teacher had a different approach to the instrument and to the teaching of music. In my early years, I worked on many basic etudes for bassoon and played very similar kinds of etudes for each of my teachers. Each teacher taught me a different aspect (specified below in cursive) of music performance. One teacher encouraged me to analyze the harmonic content of every measure of my etude before attempting to play it. He evaluated my performance in lessons on whether or not I performed correct phrase groupings (among other things). Another teacher asked me to visualize my sound as a grapefruit and project that visualization to the upper left-hand corner of the music studio. This teacher encouraged me to work with sound quality and to resonate inside of whatever phrase I was attempting to sound in real time. A third teacher asked me to play the first eight measures of an etude approximately 25 times, each time following his emotional direction for performance ("play as if you are upset about the death of a loved one"; "play as if you just won the lottery"). Later in my training, when I was performing the Prelude of Bach's Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor for a fourth teacher, I was instructed to imagine the melodic line in a circular motion, allowing for the heaviness of notes to impact the momentum of the motion in the phrase. The momentum would determine when I could breathe without interrupting the musical line; I could adjust the momentum in real time to facilitate breathing and other technical and musical issues as they arose. He asked me to realize the sonic metaphor in the music.

Each of these approaches represents a "knowledge world" relevant to performing the music. The first teacher encouraged me to internalize the harmonic motion of each study I played. He would ask me to pencil in the chord functions of the arpeggios, and then play the passage with an interpretation that was informed by the harmonic motion. This approach emphasizes the notes and the relations between them. My interaction with the score centered on those concepts. A very different basis for interacting with a score was presented by the second teacher, who was more concerned with my sound than with the harmonic shaping of the phrases I was playing. This teacher encouraged me to round out and build a more consistent tone. By telling me to think about a grapefruit, he was asking me to adjust my body/bassoon to produce a pleasant round sound. He could just as well have said, "Visualize your sound like the shape of a helicopter or an elephant," but the effect would have been different. In telling me to project the sound to the upper corner of the studio, he was asking me to hold that shape throughout the phrase. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, of course. The first provides some justification for shaping the phrase, the second some awareness of resonance throughout the phrase. Using one technique without an awareness of the other might well lead to a less successful performance of the passage.

The third teacher worked on a different aspect of performance, that of emotion or character in the sound. A group of notes contains more than just a harmonic motion and an accompanying set of sounds. It has an emotional meaning or an inherent character that can and should be realized in performance. This emotion or character is a product of the interaction between the performer's subjectivity—her imagistic and experiential life—and the "objectivity" of the score. Maxym emphasized this imaginative aspect when teaching the Mozart Bassoon Concerto. He lit up his eyes, bounced around in his chair, and twiddled his fingers in the air while discussing filigree. He adopted a lively, jovial, slightly devious character and then asked me to project a similar character from my imagination into my sound.

Every technique mentioned so far impacts on a performer's style. The first teacher was drawing on stylistic elements of the teacher Marcel Tabuteau.27 The second was trying to teach a style of bassoon playing that would be suitable for orchestral playing. The third teacher (and also Maxym) attempted to connect my imagination with the music. The fourth teacher was also interested in style, this time in the music of J. S. Bach. However, he was drawing a more abstract set of metaphors, using circles, in order to convey increasing momentum.

Fig. 1. Circular motion in the opening of J. S. Bach Second Suite for Violoncello.

Figure 1 is not a completely accurate representation of my understanding of what he was teaching, but it will serve as a starting place for description. The metaphor he used was of a spiral circling inward and upward; not a series of circles. The circular motion was ongoing, spiraling from one measure to the next and not necessarily moving forward, but getting larger in intensity. When the line ascends, one plays with the metaphorical feeling of moving upward, against gravity. The balance of loudness and tempo, combined with the upward motion of the notes, gives one the impression of going up (at whatever pace one sets). Then at the top, there is a slight holding or pause (all of these ideas are meant to be played very subtly). The descending line moves with a natural momentum. These metaphors seem suitable for the abstract nature of the music of J. S. Bach.

From a scholar's point of view, the problem with performance knowledge is that it comfortably encompasses so many different ways of understanding music: reasoning, metaphor, resonating, and characterizing. Each of these approaches could be applied to any passage of music discussed in the lessons above, indeed to any passage of music deemed worthy of being studied and performed. And the approaches are interconnected; a performer will focus on any number of similar techniques to shape her experience of making music. Identifying a single "performance perspective" seems to be next to impossible.

The mistake of many researchers, in my view, is to have asked what performers should really and definitely know, given that what is real is, principally, a score (and the structure of the work it represents). In order to arrive at a suitably broad perspective on performance cognition, we need to identify the epistemological values and ontological foundations that will adequately describe the activity of music-making. We will define these values and foundations by drawing on ideas from the intuitively plausible areas of social and cognitive science.


Epistemological Values: Pragmatism and Generalism

While there are many forms of pragmatism stemming from the philosophical perspectives of Pierce, James, Mead and Dewey,28 some basic characteristics of the pragmatic approach can be identified as guiding principles for inquiry. Problems drive the research process. Rather than studying a problem through the dictates of a methodological stance, a pragmatist designs research based on the nature of the problem. Pragmatic inquiry recognizes knowledge as contextual. Knowledge is "not based on a strict dualism between the mind and a reality completely independent of the mind,"29 but rather it arises as a result of the interactions between actors in a situation, similar to Kvale's notion of the researcher as traveler. Pragmatic research is less interested in abstract laws of reality than in the "what" and "how" of particular circumstances. We see these values reflected in the way performers approach the problem of learning a new work. Many performers explore a range of approaches to understanding the music. Their sole aim is to sound good. This pragmatism is also reflected in the variety of approaches taken by my teachers in the discussion above. The knowledge-world employed by each teacher simply reflects one of the relevant perspectives on the problem of performing the music. Each is incomplete in itself, yet offers a framework through which to experiment in musical sound.

Pragmatism, then, can be seen as a core value for methodologies aiming to explore music performance. Another core value, generalism, reflects the reality that musicians must reconcile a wide range of theoretical approaches to understanding music while not privileging any one in particular. Performers are often caught between competing scholarly views (i.e. disagreements about the "correct" interpretation of a musical work, disagreements about style and "authenticity"), and must learn to stay in the middle ground and be flexible and responsive to an emergent performance in real time. The activity of performance necessitates an open mind on intellectual debates about music. A musician is as likely to read the Baldwin passage, the Davidson passage, an analytical treatise, or a poem, or she may view a picture that captures in some way an experiential reality suitable for exploring the music.

Likewise, Gerald Weinberg's definition of scientific generalism30 draws a distinction between the "interdisciplinarian"—one who colonizes a discipline with a paradigm from another discipline, and the "generalist"—one who looks for laws at a higher level of generality to explain the commonalities between both paradigms. The generalist, in his view, does not ask, "How do we know that what we know is true?"; but rather, "How do we come to hold the ideas that we hold as knowledge?". The generalist is interested in discovering systems of thought and communication without getting caught in the trap of trying to assess which paradigm has more truth than the others do. For the generalist, "the most dangerous pitfall . . . is imagining that one system of paradigms is more `real' than the others." Weinberg's generalists are "like the fox, who knows many things . . . . They . . . carry a single paradigm . . . one taken from a much higher vantage point, one from which the paradigms of the different disciplines are seen to be very much alike, though often obscured by special language. . . ."31

Though the generalists to whom he refers work in the natural sciences, it may be helpful to use his definition to reflect on the activity of knowing music for performance. Paradoxically, the performer's understanding of a work must come from a vantage point that is simultaneously higher and more personal than any single paradigm of musical thought. She must "know" the context of the composer and a performance history of the work.32 She must have some theoretical/analytical knowledge about the musical materials33 and be able to encounter any social or critical references contained in the music. More importantly, she must know the music through an imagistic practice of sounding and self-positioning, both within the music and within the ensemble.34 Without this kind of self-positioning, her performance will sound at best contrived and stilted, at worst, incoherent. Multiple ways of knowing must be realized through her own engagement with the music if she is to be fully present in performance. And multiple paradigms of musical thought must be applied in support of her performance.

In sum, a pragmatist views knowledge as situated; to solve problems, she uses whatever works at the time. A generalist, on the other hand, has a more refined perspective that can reveal the common ground between disparate ways of thinking. Both of these values are consistent with the cognitive activity of music performance and should therefore be embraced at the methodological level of cognitive inquiry on music performance.

Ontological Foundations: Experiential Realism

In the passage above, I argue that pragmatism and generalism are suitable epistemological bases to shape cognitive inquiry into music performance. Likewise, a performer must find a way to reconcile her physical reality as both a subjective actor and a "medium" through which general musical "truths" can be communicated. The ontological foundations of objectivism have been summarized by Mark Johnson in this way: there laws exist outside of the human experience to which rational thought processes ideally conform; imagination is a separate cognitive process, lesser than reason; bodily sensation and imagination cannot be trusted as a source of sense making in the world.35 Relativist ontology, on the other hand, argues that there are no "absolute" truths; that all meaning is relative to some frame of reference, like language or culture. The objectivist position is suspicious of human meaning and imagination; the relativist position is suspicious of generalized common ground. These views are often considered irreconcilable.

However, Johnson outlines a middle ground between traditional objectivism and relativism.36 His experiential realism is grounded in the idea that bodily sensation, imagination, and understanding are interconnected. For Johnson, structures of bodily experience form the basis for reason.37 When we view human understanding as arising from structures of bodily experience, we can respond to our need for common ground and human imagination in cognitive theory on music making. According to Johnson, categorization, schemas, metaphoric and metonymic patterns of cognitive activity, and the necessity of "narrative unity" form the fabric of the human conceptual system.38 Categorization is not a matter of "necessary and sufficient conditions," but rather a way that human beings order the objects in their worlds based on relevance and "comprehensible kinds." He uses the terms "schema," "embodied schema," and "image schema" to refer to the aspects of cognition that are neither "propositional," nor "merely physiological processes[,] but have a reality as structures or patterns of mental representations."39 These "image schemata" are not images in the sense of pictures, but include information from multiple sensory modalities, including kinesthetic senses.40 These schemas can be "transformed" or projected into basic conceptual operations that mimic sensory interaction in the world.

Johnson gives the example of an image schema: "Path-focus to end-point-focus. Follow, in imagination, the path of a moving object, and then focus on the point where it comes to rest, or where it will come to rest."41 We have no problem understanding path-focus to end-point-focus literally as well as figuratively. We project this structure from experience to new situations in order to understand them. Our experience of path-focus to end-point-focus is non-propositional. However, we use the image schema path-focus to end-point-focus in propositional and figurative thought processes. In music, for instance, we understand a key center as a path-focus and the passage from dominant to tonic as path-focus to end-point-focus. This is a very basic "imaginative" characterization, and other, more music-theoretically sophisticated approaches, unpack the theory of embodied cognition in musical materials.42 (In this context it is often re-coined the theory of cognitive metaphor.) In the domain of performance we can characterize path-focus to end-point-focus as a cognitive process in a number of different contexts. Indeed, doing so will offer a meta-perspective on cognition in one area of music performance. From there, we are free to choose how we conceptualize music making. For example, one of my journal entries contains this discussion of the air stream:

Once my torso is full (weighted from below, not above), I imagine a stream of air rising from that pool in my torso through the center of my body, into the center of my mouth, through the center of my lips, into the center of my reed, which is a small straw and resonating chamber.43

This visualization of air focused on a path from the "pool" in my lower torso to the centre of my bocal, which holds the reed, demonstrates the use of an image schema projected onto the experience of playing bassoon. Whether I'm playing a dominant-tonic bass line motion, or projecting a visualization onto my air stream, I'm drawing on my image schema for path-focus to end-point-focus or, source-path-goal as it is sometimes labeled elsewhere.

Notice that there is more than one set of cognitive metaphors operating in this journal excerpt. There is the cener-periphery schema, the torso as container metaphor, and the schema of vertical balance, with the metaphor of the lower body as an anchor, of me being weighted from below. Multiple metaphors are operating simultaneously in my understanding of how air is channeled through my body to create sound. Indeed, there is ample support in performance literature44 for the idea that patterns of bodily and sensory experience play a dominant role in shaping the performer's approach to knowing music. We can say that the ontology of experiential realism is phenomenologically resonant with instrumental practice and offers much explanatory power for studies of cognition in music performance. In sum, experiential realism is the view that cognition is rooted in patterns of sensory experience in the world. This vantage point is on a sufficiently high conceptual level to incorporate multiple paradigms, cultures, and individual differences. It is coherent with the values of pragmatism and generalism and forms a suitable foundation for cognitive inquiry into music performance.

Rethinking Creativity in Light of the Experiential Realist View

It is not uncommon to find people who view instrumental performance in the Western art music tradition as lacking creativity.45 In this view, only composing or improvising is considered a creative musical act. Nicholas Cook offers powerful evidence that the language and thought-tools of musicology and music theory are biased against understanding performance as a creative activity. He cites Arnold Schoenberg, "The performer, for all his intolerable arrogance, is totally unnecessary except as his interpretations make the music understandable to an audience unfortunate enough not to be able to read it in print."46 Viewing a performance as a reproduction of a work inspired by a composer, Cook maintains, has prevented the scholarly community from truly understanding music-making as a process. R. Keith Sawyer addresses the question of creativity in music performance by presenting a continuum of "improvised" to "ossified" musical styles.47 While he recognizes that performing from a score may involve some creative activity, his definition of musical creativity still emphasizes the generation of "new" musical materials.

In Western aesthetics, creativity is often viewed as a mysterious process of channeling a higher mind than that of reason or defying tradition to shock the audience into feeling something "new." Johnson, on the other hand, views creativity as a "process of generating new connections among ideas" rather than an absence of rationality or a defiance of rule-governed logical thought. Creativity is possible because of the connection between experience and imaginative projection:

we can say at least this much: creativity is possible, in part, because imagination gives us image-schematic structures and metaphoric and metonymic patterns by which we can extend and elaborate those schemata. One image schema (such as the PATH schema) can structure many different physical movements and perceptual interactions, including ones never experienced before. And, when it is metaphorically elaborated, it can structure many nonphysical, abstract domains. Metaphorical projection is one fundamental means by which we project structure, make new connections, and remold our experience.48

It may be worthwhile to consider exactly what creative cognition in music performance might look like in light of Johnson's revised definition of creativity. We might say that creativity in music performance is not the generation of "new" musical materials (notes, harmonies, rhythms), but rather the ability to draw meaningful connections between musical materials such that the transform of those materials in real time conveys something - anything relevant - to fellow musicians, to continue the narrative of the self, or to the audience.49

Redefining Virtuosity from the Cognitive View

Francisco J. Varela and his collaborators were part of an ongoing trend to bridge high and low levels of inquiry (the body/mind problem) in cognitive science.50 His systems perspective recognizes cognition as a result of the interaction between an autopoietic life form and its environment. Autopoiesis is the term for the system of self-generation inherent in all life forms. More recently, a dynamical-systems approach has been used to conceptualize life at many layers of existence, from solitons, to neurons, to organs, to bodies, to groups.51 Varela's "enactive" model of cognition takes a slightly different perspective than the "embodied" model proposed by Johnson and Lakoff. I see evidence for defining embodied cognition as follows: our patterns of understanding the world arise from sensory experience and recurrent patterns of activity. The enactive- cognition perspective can be defined as the way we use the environment to structure our cognition. Both of these perspectives rely on the fact that we have bodies that engage in regular actions, and that this process structures our cognition. The embodied-cognition perspective is still quasi-representational in that we are talking about cognitive architectures based on primary—basic level categorization, image schemata, and metaphor. The enactive-cognition paradigm does not deny those structures, but suggests that we use the world to structure our cognition. Both paradigms embrace the experiential realist ontology.

In his proposal for a new scientific methodology he calls "neurophenomenology," Varela combined methods from Eastern philosophy and with a pragmatic approach to Western phenomenology, and agreed with Husserl that it is possible to discover deep aspects of cognition through systematic introspection.

"I . . . take my cues from Husserl's style as an eternal beginner, always willing to start anew; this is the hallmark of phenomenology itself, (but it has not always been the case in practice) . . . This will provide the bridges to cognitive neuroscience discussed here . . . I take quite literally the importance of seeing experience as a first-hand description. As B. Besnier has recently remarked, we should not "neglect this essential guiding principle of phenomenology, namely, that it advances by description . . . of an experience that one must therefore re-do"."52

In his book, Ethical Know-How: Action, Wisdom, and Cognition (1999), Varela analyzes the cognitive processes governing expert action. He begins by defining three "minds": beginning, expert, and virtuosic. The beginning mind includes the cognitive processes of analysis, of reasoning, and of problem solving. Varela argues that these "beginning-mind" strategies are the least evolved aspects of our cognitive functioning, becoming active only when we encounter obstacles and difficulties in the world. The expert mind engages in a cognitive process of immediate coping in patterned and repetitive ways, carried out without much conscious awareness (e.g. eating, brushing teeth). The virtuosic mind operates from extension. Extension constitutes the cognitive skill of projecting from previous experience onto the present situation to govern decision-making in the moment. This requires attention and intelligent awareness.

Varela bases his categorization of cognition in expert action on the writing of Mencius, a fourth-century BCE Confucian philosopher.53 Mencius outlines four purposes for human action: (1) actions that arise from a desire for gain; (2) actions that arise from habitual response patterns; (3) actions that arise from following rules; and (4) actions that arise from extension.54 In his view, only "actions that arise from extension" are considered truly virtuous. Varela defines virtuousness as a moral skill applied to every day living. In fact, he takes care to distinguish between ethical action and playing a musical instrument, arguing that ethical action is more than just a skill like playing a musical instrument. However, from a general systems perspective, the cognitive processes involved in living virtuously, if viewed from a higher vantage point, follow similar patterns as those of performing with virtuosity. Though virtuosity has previously been defined relative to a variety of social and cultural performance values, I will draw on Varela's discussion to show how we might define virtuosity as a cognitive skill.

The cognitive process of extension refers to the ability to apply what we know to be successful from one situation to another situation where the right action might not be as clear. The cognitive process of extension is different from simply applying rules or making decisions. It involves "rich description"—the ability to draw meaningful feeling from a multi-faceted experience and apply that knowledge to the new situation. This requires attention, and Mencius confirms that it is not possible to act in a good way without attending to the situation, and also intelligent awareness—the ability to engage in a "middle way" between rational analysis and spontaneous action. In the middle way, a person is "intelligently aware" of his or her actions not through deliberation, but with real-time awareness. Awareness is something an individual can only experience; it cannot be adequately measured, but it can be systematically cultivated through practices that are centuries old. According to Mencius, all humans have the capacity to operate from extension, but it does not happen without training the mind. In the Buddhist tradition, there are many exercises designed to develop intelligent awareness. Small activities like breathing and eating are practiced in a meditative space in order to cultivate awareness. Complex activities like archery, martial arts, and mandala making are also practiced with the explicit intention to develop skill through intelligent awareness. Varela would agree that it is possible to perform these acts with and without virtuosity.

Similarly, it is possible to play a musical instrument without attaining virtuosity. In Mencius's terms, this level of musical activity can be compared to the "village good person" with whom one cannot find fault, who acts according to the expectations of his village fellows but who is not operating from extension. Varela quotes Mencius, "The village honest man may behave properly by all accounts, but is not virtuous if he is not attentive to his actions."55 If we extend this line of argument to its conclusion for music performance, the "beginning-mind" processes of analysis, reasoning, and problem solving exist only to bring a person to the next level of cognitive skill. The cognitive process of extension is required of musicians who wish to reach a level of mastery that allows them to "play" in real time with others. In order to shape music in response to the audience and the environment, we must develop the cognitive skill of reflective awareness of physical performance as well as performance skill per se. From this meta-perspective, we have more power to choose how we respond to our musical environment.

Traveling Alone

When a musician works for hours with her instrument, she pays attention to her sound, her resonance, and the relationship her sound has with her embodied experience of making music. Experiential inquiry is widely used in the cultivation of expertise in music performance, whereby the discourse of this form of inquiry takes place in lessons, master classes, and rehearsals—rarely in written form. Even pedagogical treatises rarely go into detail on qualitative/experiential matters. Nevertheless, all of my teachers taught from experience. All had cultivated elaborate first-person accounts of shaping musical sound.

Future research in music cognition must account in some way for the introspection and awareness cultivated extensively through the practice and performance of music. As a window to future work in this direction, I would like to present some of my first-person experiential inquiry into music performance. Since 2002, I have been keeping a practice journal to assist in my reflective awareness of physical performance. Below I summarize some of the experiential themes that arose during my practice. The goal is not to provide "truths" about what musical experience is or should be. Nor are the set of categories, or the examples within them, complete. Instead, my goal is to provide a brief overview of a few processes of attention and awareness that were taught to me by my teachers,56 with the help of concepts that I have learned from my studies in social and cognitive science.

Interaction is the lens through which I examine myself as a "person-music" system.57 I look for "life" in the sound. Life in this sense is not about the "right" pitch or dynamic, but rather about the interaction between me and sound I am making. Sometimes this occurs in the form of identifying a rhythmic gestalt to guide my practice. This rhythmic gestalt does not represent rhythm in quantifiable terms (such as eighth-notes, dotted-sixteenths, etc.), but rather in the meanings or worlds contained in or projected onto the desired musical sound. It is a feeling for placing rhythms in a way that is communicative of human states. For example, this unedited excerpt from 6/27/06:

measures 1&2 are a unit, 3&4 are a unit, 5 invades 4, coming in slightly early for emphasis, stay resonant in those low note gestures, they are digging into some experience or feeling, stay resonant downward into the lowest notes, and come up very slowly to the breath, using the d to set up a breath that is in character with the expression. begin the c# slow but into time very soon, emphasize the g, and eflat and g again and the next eflat. this is a lop-sided rhythm for emphasis on a destabilizing emotion, or the effects of that destabilizing emotion on the human expression. 13-16 are a resolution or incorporation of that material. a "conclusion" in the rhetorical sense. and this is also the end of the piece, so that is fitting.

This passage records a few of my thoughts about how to portray "the effects of [a] de-stabilizing emotion on the human expression,"58 by the following: "come in slightly early"; "come up slowly"; "begin slow but into time very soon"; and "set up the breath."

In other passages, I discuss my body as a "music-making system" and apply specific operations to it. For example, if I have a fast passage that I want to sound lighter, I focus on lifting my fingers, instead of pressing them.59 If I have a need for greater clarity and definition of the notes, I focus on pressing my fingers. If I need to articulate a soft note in the low register, I press my left foot to the ground at the exact moment I articulate the low note.60 Maxym used to teach his students to breathe in the character of the musical expression.61 This is an example of the performer as "music-making system"—the breath and musical intentions are aligned. To acquire this level of control over the body requires years of practice, and, I would add, the ability to operate from extension as discussed above.

Resonance, also mentioned in the journal excerpt above, is closely tied to interaction as an experiential category. When I "extend my mind into the air stream" or "into the tone," my awareness stays with the air stream or tone. If my mind wanders, that sense of presence, resonance, is gone from the tone. But awareness of the tone is more than just an objective assessment of the tone quality. It includes a performance world that the tone is intended to represent. The resonance reflects the state of being portrayed in the sound. "Here I am in G minor" is a comment that connects my personality to the key of the piece. I resonate an idea, a feeling, or a state in the music. The absence of resonance can lead to the feeling that "I'm just crashing through the music."

Resonance is relevant for the details and the "big picture" of a work. Maxym used to teach his students not to play geographically. The bassoon has the great fortune of being able to make huge intervallic leaps between octaves. If the mind follows the notes up and down, the support falters and the resonance is lost. In the same way, one journal entry contains the following statements: "don't get caught up in the face of a faster rhythm": "I direct myself to keep the overall resonance of the work grounded"; "I remain in the same geographical/temporal/musical location unless there is a musical reason to move with the mind."

Earlier, in my list of teaching examples, I recalled how one teacher asked me to visualize my tone in the size of a grapefruit and project it to the upper left-hand corner of the room. This visualization was intended to encourage the development of a resonant tone. The key to developing resonance was to learn how to visualize a shape in my sound, and to maintain that shape as I played a phrase. Holding a resonant tone is not so challenging. But maintaining that state of resonance through a phrase can be quite difficult. Each time a note change occurs it is possible that the mind will wander and resonance of sound will be lost. One way to strengthen the skill of resonance is to learn how to attend to the physical sensations of playing. If I can feel the tone holes beneath my fingers, feel the vibrations of the tones in my head and chest, and maintain that sensation through the phrase I am more likely to succeed at resonating. Note that maintaining resonance seems to be tied to the ability to focus the mind on the connection between the body and the music.

Embodiment: Paying attention to the body is a central aspect of developing technique. Performance requires physical awareness. It requires internal listening, repetition, and "feeling" the relationships between notes. For example, instrumentalists develop repertoires of "licks," or passages that lie nicely under the fingers. These licks are practiced repeatedly to test the instrument or to warm up. An instrumentalist feels how well the instrument is responding by running through a few of them. In my journal, there are many references to "feeling the relationships" between notes. The opening motive, Eb4—C4—Ab3, in Rimsky Korsakov's Symphonic Dances requires a "feeling" relationship with the bassoon. I feel through the instrument if everything is set up correctly; I feel the air pressure through the tone holes; I feel the coordination of the right pinky with the left thumb on the flick key and the speed of air through the half-hole. Any disconnect between my physical sensations and the sound could prove disastrous.

A second category of embodiment includes the projection of figurative thought onto physical experiences; "how" something is played versus "what" is being played. There are many metaphors layered onto the physical body in my performance journal. Common metaphors for the body include: the torso as container (tooth paste tube, balloon) or, the air stream as path. I often focus on these metaphors during warm-ups and at times when my breathing feels restricted. In terms of posture, I often refer to an experience of feeling centered, or weighted from below. When I am sitting, I feel anchored in the hips. When I am standing, my weight is balanced "in the bottom half." This increases my sense of stability, which allows more freedom for my breathing and finger technique.

The metaphor of the anchor covers other aspects of music-making. Sometimes I refer to "anchoring" the pitch between intervals, another way of maintaining resonance, discussed earlier. I also "anchor" certain notes in fast passages so that the passage sounds more smooth and coherent. The imaginative projection of my experience of being anchored assists with many aspects of understanding and performing the musical sound.

Ensemble: When I practice with a group of musicians, my list of cognitive tasks and priorities varies according to context and process. If the group is sight reading, I will read while counting, watching, and listening. If we have practiced the piece before, and I have dealt with the technical requirements of my part, I will listen while watching, counting, and reading. My task as a bassoonist is to engage my sound with the sounds of others in what I hope to be a perfect and complimentary balance of voices, rhythms, gestures, and timbres. I attend to my part in the context of a larger whole, in which our music is only complete when we are together. My pleasure as a musician in this context comes from the integration of parts to form a larger whole. This is also true in my experience of Korean P'ungmul drumming. Reflecting on practice:

Today when we were learning new rhythms for the third movement, I observed myself attending to individual players. I directly watched three different changgo players (at different times) and coordinated my bodily motions with each one of them individually. One of the changgo players in particular has very good technique and when I watched him, my arm moved faster and with a greater snapping motion that resulted in a louder and more precise sound. But I could also attend to the entire group by staring vaguely into the center of the circle. I could see/feel/hear the general waving of arms with sounds and observe/experience my body's participation in the activity of performing these rhythms. My sounds were "completed" in the group music. Furthermore, my sounds were not "mine" in the sense of me expressing something.62

While one can easily imagine a bassoonist "expressing" her part in The Rite of Spring, or even more in a solo concerto or chamber ensemble, in the P'ungmul group it makes no sense for me (a novice puk player) to be "expressing" anything or adding anything "novel" to the sound. Here, the musical goal is to coordinate within a larger ritual symbolizing unity in group activity. The role of my instrument, the puk, is to reinforce "grounding" aspects of the more complex changgo rhythm. "Self expression" is de-emphasized in this context.


Models of cognition have been developed as "thought tools," mental models to assist in understanding cognitive processes. As with any model, their validity lies in both their power to explain aspects of human experience and the breadth of the domain in which they are effective. While much of the research in music cognition draws upon experimental psychology methodologies, I have argued that alternative models from cognitive science have greater explanatory power for the domain of performance, and might better support the pragmatic and general goals of practicing musicians.


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1Small, Musicking.

2Berliner, "Give and Take"; Brinner, Knowing Music; Monson, "What's Sound Got to Do with It?"; Monson, Saying Something.

3Bowen, "Finding the Music."

4Cusick, "Gender."

5Cumming, The Sonic Self.

6Cook, "Analysing Performance", "Between Process and Product"; Dunsby and Whittall, Music Analysis; Dunsby, Performing Music; Lester, "How Theorists Relate"; Lester, "Performance and Analysis"; Leong, "Virtuosity"; Nolan, "Reflections"; Rothstein, "Analysis and the Act"; Schmalfeldt, "On the Relation."

7Sawyer, Group Creativity; Sawyer, ed., Creativity in Performance.

8The product-oriented tradition evaluates musical products (performances, recordings) on their perceived accuracy to the composer's intentions. The structuralist tradition emphasizes the role that structural analysis plays in realizing the score. These traditional values have their most welcome domain in the music of Beethoven and his contemporaries and have supported the most popular ideas on this music for some time. See also: Patricia Carpenter, "The Musical Object."

9Schmalfeldt, "On the Relation," 27.

10Ibid., 1.

11Chernoff, "African Rhythm and Sensibility."

12Ibid., 3.

13Ibid., 3-4.

14Kvale, Interviews.

15Ibid., 3.


17For an in-depth discussion of the way collaboration shapes ethnographic research, see Lassiter, The Chicago Guide.

18Ibid., 5.

19Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues." This story has been published in numerous sources. I use an excerpt from the version found in Gary Colombo's anthology, Mind Readings (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002), 413-14.

20Some readers may object to the idea of Baldwin as a researcher. Baldwin published six novels, four books of essays, two plays, and a book of photographs. He lectured at the University of Amherst, Bowling Green State, and the University of California at Berkeley. The content for his writing was cultivated over years of introspection and observation of human interaction. I view him as a researcher in the sense of the "traveler" metaphor discussed in Kvale. Though we do not have access to Baldwin's methodology for preparing this short story, we can evaluate his observational power purely on the level of insight contained within his story.

21Davidson, "Communicating with the Body."

22Ibid., 146.

23It is interesting to note that we do listen—often with eyes closed—for physical aspects of music performance.

24"Grounding the fundamental" means that the two performers are coordinating their physical stance, embouchure, breath support and overall approach so that their sounds mesh completely. If they both change their stance, they can metaphorically ground the fundamental in a different place, creating a different character in the tone. Surprisingly, this physical grounding influences the way the timbre is felt (and, very likely, perceived).

25Analytical writing does not always have these characteristics, but formalism is still prevalent in music theory and analysis.

26Wheeler, Reconstructing.

27I have not even remotely done the Tabuteau school of playing justice here. For an impressive account of the Tabuteau style of wind playing, see McGill, Sound in Motion.

28Cresswell, Research Design, 11.

29Ibid., 12.

30Weinberg, "An Introduction."

31Ibid., 34.

32This performance history can be formal, as described in Bowen, "Finding the Music," or informal through observing and discussing performances with colleagues.

33This knowledge in many cases is cultivated in formal settings and applied informally in practice.

34See Cumming, The Sonic Self.

35Johnson, The Body in the Mind. See also Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things; Johnson, The Meaning of the Body.

36Ibid., 173.

37Ibid., 139.

38Ibid., 171-2.

39Ibid., 23-24.

40Ibid., 25.

41Ibid., 26.

42See Johnson and Larson, "`Something in the Way She Moves'"; Zbikowsky, Conceptualizing Music.

43Journal excerpt, 6/23/06.

44Cumming, The Sonic Self. Kaastra, Systematic Approaches.

45Lest the reader be tempted to think this statement overblown, I attended a lecture in 2004, given by a tenured professor of music, in which it was argued that cello playing was not a creative activity. The professor asserted that cello playing is nothing more than following a set of directions on a score, in a manner not unlike paint-by-numbers.

46Ibid., 1.

47Sawyer, Group Creativity.

48Johnson, The Body in the Mind.

49Of course, one could also view composing this way, since musical materials remain the same. It is when something creative is done with them that they become what we might call a musical work, or performance.

50See Varela, Principles of Biological Autonomy; Maturana, and Varela, eds., Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living, Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, The Embodied Mind.

51For some of the latest research in this area, see Patricia Carpenter and Chris Davia, "Mind and Brain: A Catalytic Theory of Embodiment" (forthcoming). An outline of the theory can also be found online at

52Varela, "The Specious Present," 1.

53For a more thorough treatment of Mencian extension, see Slingerland, Effortless Action, 144-48.

54Varela, Ethical Know-How, 30.

55Ibid., 29.

56The non-bassoonist musicians I have worked with include: Maurice Bourgue, Alan Hacker, Froydis Ree Wekre, James Campbell, Ransom Wilson, and Ronald Roseman. The bassoonists I have studied with include: Stephen Maxym, Sergio Azzolini, John Gaudette, Jim Ewen, Denis Godburn, Jesse Read, and Christopher Millard. I have also participated in master classes and single lessons with the following bassoonists: David Carroll, Otto Eiffert, and Arthur Weisburg.

57See also van Schalkwyk, "Interactive Workshop", "Research in Music Psychology."

58Because I would like to draw attention to the thought processes themselves, I have decided not to include a score or reveal the title of the work I was practicing that day.

59A technique taught to me by Stephen Maxym.

60A technique taught to me by David Carroll of the New York Philharmonic.

61See the unedited journal excerpt for a reference to breathing in character.

62P'ungmul drumming class reflection, 10/26/06.

3200 Last modified on October 2, 2018