Moving to the beat of its own drum – Contemporary theatre music in relation to gesture and space

Presentation by David Roesner at the symposium „Music as an Experimental Field for Movement„, from 14–16 September 2020 in Strobl am Wolfgangsee, concept and organisation: PD Dr. Stephanie Schroedter with assistance from Lisa Konnerth


To contextualize this presentation, I will first quote the conference booklet by Stephanie Schroedter, which outlines the aims and objective of her symposium, which forms an integral part of her DFG-funded project „Körper und Klänge in Bewegung. Modelle einer musikchoreographischen Inszenierungs- und klangperformativen Aufführungsanalyse“:

Responding to the latest developments in contemporary music/dance theater and music/dance performances, this symposium will analyze interrelations between music/sounds and (body) movements (that is, audio-visual-kinaesthetic sensations also beyond straightforward narrative stories). How are music/sound and (body) movements/dance related in artistic processes, including rehearsal processes? What models can be determined in this regard, and to which aesthetics of effect do they correspond? And: What are the consequences for their perception, the hearing and seeing of movements, as well as for their description and analysis?

Starting from such questions, a broad spectrum of performances will be up for debate, drawn from a wide variety of areas, genres and styles, including productions that dissolve the boundaries of the stage, such as installations or video productions. The aim is to investigate relationships between music and bodies, but also the physicality of music itself, as well as the interweaving of music and movement (as implicit/invisible but audible movement, or on the basis of explications such as choreographed/physical movements).

At the same time, questions should be raised as to whether and to what extent these models can be traced back to the achievements of avant-garde artists since the early 20th century. Which interrelations can be determined within the context of earlier/pioneering works that, regardless of their specific characteristics, have comparable basic structures or arrangements?

Speakers may present source or philologically oriented studies, staging or performance analysis-led studies, or a combination of these approaches. The objective is a critically stimulating, multi-perspective discussion about music/sound in relation to bodies/physicality and movement on stage, which opens up inter-/ trans- disciplinary horizons – without having to abandon one’s own artistic/disciplinary “center”

(Schroedter 2020)
Presentation, Part 1
Presentation, Part 2
Presentation, Part 3

Case Studies:

Thomas Ostermeier’s Richard III (Schaubühne Berlin 2015), Felix Rothenhäusler’s Nichts von euch auf Erden (Münchner Kammerspiele 2015) and Christopher Rüping’s Dionysos Stadt (Münchner Kammerspiele 2018).

Presentation, Part 4
Presentation, Part 5
Presentation, Part 6
Presentation, Part 7
Presentation, Part 8
Presentation, Part 9

A long version of this presentation in written form is scheduled to be published in 2021 in an edited volume on the symposium topic by Stephanie Schroedter.

In the meantime, some of the topics mentioned in the talk have been explored already in:

Quick, Tamara Yasmin. 2020. „Die Qualität im Relationalen. Herausforderungen in der Analyse theatermusikalischer Interpretationen.“ In Analyse und Interpretation, edited by Bernd Asmus. Stuttgart: Schott (forthcoming).

Roesner, David. 2020. „‚Gequietsche, Gewaber oder Gewummer‘. Methodische Herausforderungen bei der Analyse von Theatermusik“.“ In Methoden der Theaterwissenschaft, edited by Christopher Balme and Berenika Szymanski-Düll, 169–186. Tübingen: Narr.