Centrum för kognitiv semiotik (CCS)

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet


A search through cognitive semiotics for enhanced understanding of the musical knowledge embodied in the practice of the artistic medium of Soundpainting

Bruno Faria


In the light of current discussions of embodiment I will share in this presentation some aspects of my research, which focuses on experiences of the artistic medium called Soundpainting from the perspective of classically trained musicians. Created by North-American musician Walter Thompson in the mid 1970s and defined by him as a sign language for live composition (Thompson, n.d.), Soundpainting re-contextualizes musical knowledge by replacing the function and transforming the referential aspects of traditionally notated musical scores through body/hand signs, and by establishing improvisation as a main source for the emergence and organization of musical expressions. Based on common knowledge of the conventions of the medium and through the continuous non-verbal transactions between a group leader (i.e., soundpainter), who defines and presents sequences of physical signs and gestures to a group of musicians, and the musicians, who perform responses to these, unique performances are created in real time. The change from paper to body and the various levels of indeterminacy built in the medium create an other opportunity for the recognition, application, and expansion of embodied musical knowledge.