Performative Gestures
and the Performance of 
Takemitsu's 'Equinox for guitar'

by Fabricio Mattos

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After receiving many requests for my dissertation, which was the output of research carried out at the Royal Academy of Music, London, I have decided to publish it in a more interesting format for everyday use. This website brings the content of this research in a more accessible way (the original research was delivered in a mixed format of hard copy + digital files in a flash drive). It took many hours of work to adapt its contents to a website, and I hope it is clear enough for guitarists and other musicians to access and comprehend my ideas on this topic.

The language may be sometimes very technical, as it is intended to be accessed by professional musicians. There are, however, some chapters that are (hopefully) also accessible to non-musicians, for their holistic approach, such as the chapter about the History of the Performing Stage. 

I am very grateful to my tutors at the Royal Academy of Music, Sarah Callis and Neil Heyde, who have been of crucial help in the development of the present work and have always contributed in a healthy way to turn even the most insane ideas into something feasible. I am also grateful to my guitar tutors at RAM: Michael Lewin, Tim Walker, David Russell, Fabio Zanon, and Julian Bream, for their invaluable insights and amazing lessons; and finally to many colleagues who have directly or indirectly influenced my scholar output, and to the Royal Academy of Music for giving me a full scholarship to carry out this research.

I believe any research should be dynamic, open-minded, and practical; this is why I am extremely grateful for any feedback, comments, critics, corrections, or complementary information on any topic approached on the following pages, as this could also help me in my long road as a scholar. I certainly hope that some of the following ideas will also help other musicians (not only guitarists) to reconsider some of the aspects of the musical performance, in terms of the attitudes of performer before audiences. 

Any comments on the content of this website, as well as general requests regarding lectures or masterclasses focusing on this topic, should be forwarded to [email protected] Even though this research has already been delivered as my final work at RAM, I still consider it as work-in-progress, which is why changes and  updates will happen occasionally.

I do hope your experience with this research will be as enjoyable as the making of it!

Fabricio Mattos


Gestural communication increases the level of human understanding, and in musical performance it improves the acceptance of the artistic message conveyed by the performer to the audience. The aim of this research is to invite performers to actively search for a refinement of interpretation achieved through personal experimentation with performative gestures, beyond mere technicalities and traditionalism that govern a great part of musical practice in our days.

The first step in order to provide a well-structured gestural preparation in guitar performance, particularly of Takemitsu’s Equinox, is by suggesting a definition of performative gestures to be used in this research, as it can vary according to cultural backgrounds or different fields of research. Based on information from other areas of knowledge, new categories of performative gestures will be defined in the chapter ‘Typology of performative gestures’ and videoed examples of some gestures will be provided. It is considered essential to next analyze the stage as physical and psychological space, its history in Eastern and Western countries, and its role in the perception of gestures. Finally, a quick video-analysis of Equinox will be provided, and a video of the author performing the piece, conceived according to the gestural palette developed during the many practical experiments that followed the theoretical research. A ‘Discussion’ was preferred over ‘Conclusion’ to finish this dissertation, signalling the continuity of the present research.

About the author

Classical guitarist Fabricio Mattos performs and teaches worldwide. He undertook a world tour in 2011 as part of WGC-Worldwide Guitar Connections, a project founded and directed by himself that comprises many innovations in music-making. He also produced and took part in many other tours, recordings, collaborations, and teaching projects in five continents in recent years. 

Mattos graduated from EMBAP (School of Music and Fine Arts of Paraná), in Curitiba, Brazil, and completed his  Master of Music (Performance & Research) degree at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He has won many important international prizes and awards in his career, including the prestigious “Julian Bream Award”.

Fabricio Mattos is currently a PhD student at the Royal Academy of Music, researching the history and aesthetics of performance spaces from shamanism to modern halls, and designing new layouts for music performances in contemporary open spaces. The output of this research project is explored through the creative enterprise 'New Stages', comprised by a performance series and other academic-related events.

Official Website: 

WGC-Worldwide Guitar Connections:

Contact[email protected]


This website is meant for academic and general use. 

Any part of it may be reproduced provided the author is properly acknowledged.