The Merging of Musician and Musical Instrument

Incorporation, Presence, and Levels of Embodiment

Authored by: Luc Nijs

The Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138657403
eBook ISBN: 9781315621364
Adobe ISBN: 9781317219736

10.4324/9781315621364.ch5

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Abstract

Reflecting on his portrait by the Russian painter Gabriel Glickman, the famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich described the relationship with his cello in the following way:

There no longer exist relations between us. Some time ago I lost my sense of the border between us… there I was—and my cello became just a red spot at my belly, like a dissected peritoneum. And actually, I feel it now in this manner, much like a singer seems to feel his vocal chords. I experience no difficulty in playing sounds. Indeed, I give no report to myself on how I speak. Just so, I play music, involuntarily. The cello is my tool no more.

(Cited in Zinchenko, 1996, p. 295) Rostropovich expresses an idea that is shared by many musicians, namely that the musical instrument has become part of himself. But is this “idea” of incorporation a matter of belief (because we would like this to be the case)? Is it a matter of suspension of disbelief (because we know it is not really a part of us)? Or, is there a deeper cause, a bodily root that underlies the metaphor of having merged (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999)?

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