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Beyond the ScoreMusic as Performance$
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Nicholas Cook

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199357406

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199357406.001.0001

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The Signifying Body

The Signifying Body

(p.288) 9 The Signifying Body
Beyond the Score

Nicholas Cook

Oxford University Press

This is a case study of Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “Foxy Lady” at the Isle of Wight Festival (1970), set into a wide range of interpretive contexts. The chapter is grounded in the performing body as a site of meaning production and includes detailed analysis of Hendrix’s gestural choreography: in particular, Hendrix repurposes what are in origin cueing gestures so that they become modes of address to the audience, in this way constructing a varied range of subject positions. The second half of the chapter takes as its starting point the very end of the performance, where Hendrix’s gestures and expressions evoked the tradition of blackface minstrelsy: the chapter reconstructs the racial contexts in both America and the UK within which the meaning of this moment is to be understood. In Henry Louis Gates’s terms it was a moment of Signifying, and the chapter argues for the productiveness of this concept as applied to performance in general.

Keywords:   body, gesture, guitar, blackvoice, blackface, race, semiosis, Hendrix, Gates

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