Taina Riikonen


Dr. Taina Riikonen is a Helsinki-based sound explorer who moves in the liminal spaces between sound arts and research. Her current activities spiral around recording and writing bodies.  

Riikonen is a co-founder of the Finnish Network of Performance Studies.


research expositions

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  • open exposition comments (0)


Exposition: Moving to Become Better: The Embodied Performance of Musical Groove (01/01/2011) by Vincent Meelberg
Taina Riikonen 21/11/2011 at 21:55

The research question and the aim of investigation are very interesting at the moment, in the field of musical performance studies. The novel approaches that have abandoned a ‘from-page-to-sound’ (‘traditional‘ music analytical) hierarchy are flourishing with the important emphases on musicians’ embodied experiences, socio-material meaning-making as well as cultural and local diversity.


The subject of the submission is, therefore, of much interest. However, the artistic research on listening / sensing the groove gives quite a potential to experiment with and create new methods of investigation, innovative, corporeal verbatim on music making, new analytical categories and close interaction with the reader. All this potential could be utilized more extensively in the submission.


The practice as research is always a complex task, and when studying groove in performance, operationalizing the practice is not simple (or easy) at all. The author bases his research question and the background of the research in the field very well, but there are some essential conceptual and epistemological undercurrents in the text that I suggest need solving in order to get the research and argument on a more solid basis.


1. The basic setting of the submission implies a subject / body split. If the body is treated as a surplus, as something that is ‘needed’ for intellectual contemplation, how could the reader be convinced of the significance of the study of the embodiment of groove? The privilege to the body (experiences) could be written in the text in many ways.


2. The different registers and types of groove could be better explained in terms of bodily interaction. The even deeper investigation of practice as research could probably bring out some new and subtle qualities (and the cultural differences connected to them) as a result of the study.


Considering the insights above, I miss here a more intense leaning on the embodied methods (listening), corporeal analytical parameters (not necessary music theoretical) and performer-centred arguments (linguistics based on sensory experiences, interaction during playing etc).


The layout and the overall design support the aim of the proposition well. The textual narration is in a good balance with the display of the score examples. However, since the author wishes to emphasize the performers’ perspectives around groove, the creative use of multi-material data could be done more extensively.


The research question and overall artistic-scholarly problematic is very well chosen. Also, the author’s own personal location in the research is well reflected. The strength of the text is its rich reference apparatus (to the relevant research). The conceptualization of groove as an intruder is also a successful embodied act and therefore it could be applied in the textual level even more.


I suggest some further elaboration for the following issues:


1. The operationalizing of the actual music making practices to the analytical parameters. One suggestion could be that the descriptive text besides the score examples is substituted with the quotes and reflections of the live playing situations. A ‘What does the body do’ approach (instead of what does the body mean) might help here. Also, more specific embodied sound making terms could be used.


2. The conclusions could be more innovative. In the artistic research context the remark of groove being first and foremost a bodily phenomenon is a starting point of all the investigation, not the conclusion. I consider the chapter ‘Towards an Ethics of the Groove’ to include a lot of results that could be understood as conclusions.

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