3. The Gesture or Inflection Technique
The Craft of Musical Communication by Keith Hill and Marianne Ploger, ©2005
The Gesture or Inflection technique is designed to group musical and verbal information into larger units which have shapes that are easily recognized and remembered by the brain of the listener. Language lives or dies by inflection. Flat, uninflected speech is instantly tedious and tiresome to focus on. Highly inflected speech is effortless to pay attention to. Music is the same. Inflection (gesture) is the technique we all use in speech to organize the distinctly irregular nature of language. Specifically, the shape of the gestures or inflections is a parabolic curve. The egg is an excellent example of this kind of shape; one could also say that the shape is elliptical. This shape creates a feeling of naturalness and is easy to follow. Language without this gesture of inflection is flat, expressionless, ugly, and difficult to comprehend...so it is with music.
To properly realize a logarithmic gesture in music, a performer must study nature and copy the shapes that nature has to offer. Further, human speech patterns are replete with this gesture in utterances, words, phrases, and groups of phrases. By consciously playing music using the elliptical gesture everywhere and in any way it can be applied, a performer can guarantee that the listeners will feel that the result will be more natural, comforting, and loving.
The brain interprets flat, uninflected speech as the behavior of a listless, dying, depressed, or extremely ill person. In similar manner, it interprets highly inflected speech as the behavior of an animated, spirited, lively, robust, and healthy person. The same is true in music. People normally don't like to be around listless, depressive personalities and love to be with animated, loving people. In the same way, they like listening to music that is animated and highly expressive, even if the feeling of the music is of sadness and of grief.
Application: Organize musical information in easy to follow and understand gestures and mini-gestures.