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Home Activities Seminar Series Fabrice Marandola, Marie-France Mifune, and Farrokh Vahabzadeh: "When fieldwork and lab research cross paths: New approaches to the study of musical gesture in a cross-cultural perspective."

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Fabrice Marandola, Marie-France Mifune, and Farrokh Vahabzadeh: "When fieldwork and lab research cross paths: New approaches to the study of musical gesture in a cross-cultural perspective."

An RA-3 and RA-4 CIRMMT seminar with panel Fabrice Marandola (McGill/CIRMMT), Marie-France Mifune (MNHN), and Farrokh Vahabzadeh (MNHN). No registration is required. Free admission.

When May 24, 2017
from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where A-832, Elizabeth Wirth Music Building
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Instrumental gesture is more than merely a mean to produce sound: it is the result of both instrumental constraints (mechanical, acoustical, ergonomic) and artistic choices, while simultaneously reflecting sociocultural values. The instrumental gesture might also bear the identifying marker of a sociocultural group and unique signature of a single performer. 
This seminar is based on the outcome of a research project dedicated to the study of instrumental gesture (GeAcMus « Gesture-Acoustic-Music » of Sorbonne Universités). This project offers a unique comparative perspective on the topic of musical gesture. Focusing on the study of instrumental gesture from oral as well as written traditions in various contexts of production, our data collection includes interviews with performers, audio recordings, 2D and 3D motion captures, and eye-tracking measurements, in settings ranging from laboratory conditions to field research in Central Africa and Central Asia, to live performances in French conservatories.
The aim of the project is threefold:

1° To study the playing technique of an instrument according to its functional, aesthetic, and socio-cultural dimensions.

2° To develop new experimental methods to analyse instrumental gesture and embodiment.

3° To compare four types of instruments (drum, percussion keyboard, lute, harp) from different geo-cultural areas (Europe, Central Asia, Central Africa).
The panel is composed of three complementary case studies: 

1) Exploring Similarities Between African and Western Percussionists Using 2D, 3D Motion Capture and Eye-Tracking Methods; 

2) Instrumental Gestures and the Musical Embodiment in Iran and Central Asia ; 

3) Defining Cultural Identities through Harp Performance in Gabon.
Based on a multidimensional analysis of instrumental gesture, this comparative and interdisciplinary endeavour allows us to better demonstrate the relationships between a musical gesture, the instrument, and the music according to its cultural meaning. 


Fabrice MARANDOLA is an Associate Professor of Percussion and Contemporary Music at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University (Montreal). Previously, he was a professor of percussion at the conservatories of Angers and Grenoble in France, a pedagogy instructor at the Conservatory of Paris, and an invited professor at the Crane School of Music (SUNY-Potsdam, NY). A founding member of Canadian percussion ensemble Sixtrum, he has an active career on the New Music scene, commissioning, performing and recording new works for solo and chamber ensembles.

Marandola holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from Paris IV-Sorbonne and has conducted in-depth field-research in Cameroon. He is a member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology of Montreal (CIRMMT) of which he was Associate Director/Artistic Research from 2009-2014. In 2015-16, Marandola was Senior Research Chair at Sorbonne-Universités to lead a multidisciplinary research project on Musical Gesture (Geste-Acoustique-Musique).

Marie-France MIFUNE is an ethnomusicologist with a PhD in anthropology from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS, Paris). In several publications such as “Corps et performance dans le culte du bwiti fang (Gabon)” (in Quand la musique prend corps, PUM, 2014), she shows that ritual performance, through music, language and dance expressions, participates to the building of the ritual identity of the initiates, and also to the conservation and transmission of the ritual knowledge of the bwiti cult.

She conducted postdoctoral researches in several interdisciplinary projects on the development of automatic indexation tools for sound archives, the interdisciplinary study of vocal expressions, and the study of the instrumental gesture in a multidimensional perspective.

She is a teaching assistant in ethnomusicology at the Université de Lorraine in Metz and she is in charge of the Master’s module "anthropology of performance" at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Farrokh VAHABZADEH is an Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology in Musée de l’Homme/Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) in France.  He holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and Ethnomusicology from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris. He was awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship on “Gesture and Corporeality” from the Université de Montréal's Faculty of Music. He is interested in musical gestures, embodiment and performance studies.

Vahabzadeh currently holds the Junior Research Chair Gestures-Acoustics-Music (GeAcMus), an interdisciplinary project of Sorbonne Universités, France. 

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