Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Svetoslav Stoyanov

Second Committee Member

Craig Morris

Third Committee Member

Dale Underwood

Fourth Committee Member

Dorothy Hindman


The use of physical gestures as expressive devices in western classical music performance is widely debated. Research conclusions and pedagogical assertions alike are highly subjective. Percussion performance is a special case in which expressive gestures are inseparable from motions necessary for playing the instrument, especially in terms of articulation. Research studies show that while percussion cannot vary note length to the same extent as other instruments, it can alter sound by changing the physical motion used to strike the instrument. Because the motion is nearly always visible to the listener, it is unclear whether the change in sound is more aurally or physically perceived. I argue that stroke types affect the perception of articulation as much visually as they do aurally. This synthesis of research and pedagogical principles will allow performers to more effectively communicate articulations in percussion through a deeper understanding of the role of ancillary gesture.


percussion; ancillary; gesture; performance; visual