ObservationsWhile the study of gesture and music is a relatively new field, the observation of movement has a long and varied history. Dancers, who are by definition specialists in movement, have developed and continue to develop ways of observing and recording movement for reasons such as artistic expression and exploration, health, education and preservation of complex choreographies for future dancers. The means of observing movement translates to fields other than dance because most of what we accomplish each day is through some form of movement, whether it is to dance a choreography, play a musical instrument, wash dishes or type on a computer. Even though each of these activities is different, the means of accomplishing it is the same: use of the human body. Because of this, any movement of the human body can be examined using a system that has evolved for observing, recording, and developing movement.
Laban-Bartenieff Movement Fundamentals (LBF) describes movement on many levels in order to come close to a rich and accurate description of not only where the movement takes place in the body and in space, but how the movement occurs. In order to do this there are three key assumptions:
- the whole body is connected,
- all parts are in relation to one and other,
- a change in one part affects the whole.
All three of these assumptions are linked through the idea that any movement in one part of the body will affect the whole body.
LBF describes movement through the four inter-related categories of Space, Effort, Shape and Body. Within these categories, there are various attributes. By observing one movement using the different categories and attributes, we can begin to observe the relationship between parts of the body and use of the body. The combination of these different observations give a means of finding a complete description of a single movement. The method of observation presented here is not the complete system as this is beyond the scope of this project and full training in LBF observation requires dedication and time to complete. However, a basic understanding of fundamental concepts can be learned and used to facilitate observation by people without formal movement training. For the purposes of simplification for non-trained observers, specific attributes were chosen by certified LBF practitioner Valerie Dean in order to address the most essential aspects of observation as it applies to musicians. The goal is to provide a starting point for observing movement for observers with no formal training in movement.
Examples of the use of LBF in the analysis of clarinetists' movements can be found in the links section of this site.
- L. Campbell, M.-J. Chagnon, and M. M. Wanderley. On the use of Laban-Bartenieff techniques to describe ancillary gestures of clarinetists. Research Report. Input Devices and Music Interaction Laboratory (PDF document, 584 kbytes) Copyright: McGill University, 2005.
- L. Campbell. The Observation of Movement. Report MUMT 609 Music, Media and Technology Seminar, Winter 2005. Input Devices and Music Interaction Laboratory (PDF document, 432 kbytes) Copyright: McGill University 2005.
Text by Louise Campbell