Illustration of gesture
Any musical unit conceived as having continuity and dynamic
shape (a flow of intensities to and/or from a primary point of emphasis). Gestural hierarchy arises from the nesting of shorter gestures within larger ones. Motives, for instance, form smaller gestures within the larger gesture of a phrase. Musicians co
mmonly refer to phrases and sub-phrases as gestures to emphasize their dynamic quality. Not only groups of tones, but also a single
tone technically may be considered a gesture. For example,
a long note performed with a crescendo-diminuendo swell
constitutes a gesture. Short tones, however, tend to have a
more negligible gestural effect than longer tones. See also Graybill (1990), gestural rhythm.