Body and Mind in Interplay: A Study of the Creative Process in Musical Performance
Susanne Ronner Larsson
In recent decades there has been a shift of perception of how opera can and should be performed. New concepts in music theater have contributed to new ways of experiencing a performance. Performers and spectators have been liberated from traditional hierarchies and are now allowed to be co-creators of their own aesthetic experiences. To the artist it has become increasingly necessary to explore the creative dimension of a musical performance to obtain new tools to be able to respond to and implement new concepts. The creative opera singer is in the moment of performance as well performing artist, listener as composer - a presentational state where body and mind are interplaying.
In this seminar I will discuss my coming project in which I aim to investigate how opera singers may experience the phenomena of performing in the presentational state, as well in their own act of performing as experiencing others perform and relate this to different concepts of performing and to the ongoing process of constructing the identity of being an opera singer. As the research question has grown out of my own experience as an opera singer, and especially through my participation in John Cage's postmodern opera Europeras 1 & 2 at the opera house in Zurich, I will try to describe and attempt to explain the strong reactions to which the Zurich Opera singers and orchestra were triggered confronting these new performing concepts. Here the ideas of performing in the presentational state, the transpersonal experience, ego-system and self-system, and the tertiary process will be discussed.
As a theoretical approach I will use the life-world phenomenology where central concepts such as the creating of intersubjective meaning through the interaction of mind and body are important as well as Merleau-Ponty’s speech theory – that knowledge and skills can be incorporated into the body and then act spontaneously. The extended meaning of creative listening – as an auditive, kinesthetic as well as visual perception of singing – is in my task as vocal coach of great importance. Here the findings in the research on mirror neurons have been of great interest to me. Other areas tangential to my research are experimental psychological research, linguistics and studies on the voice organ.