Today our creative prompt comes from Jessie Marino: a Berlin-based composer, performer, and media artist from Long Island, New York.

What we’re making today

Jessie’s prompt asks us to compose using musical physical gestures. Today we’re interested in the idea of ‘everyday virtuosity’ – taking everyday gestures and using these as the material of her compositions.

Jessie has asked us to make a musical piece for live performance that only uses your body and your voice. No objects, no staging, no amplification, no video – just you. You can only use the clothing/objects which are on your body right now. You must be both performer and composer of this piece.

Today’s piece should be recorded as a video so we can see your gestures! We suggest aiming for your piece to be at least 1-3 minutes long, so you’ll have a chance to develop some of your ideas. Please make sure your name is in the title of your sound or video file so we know who to credit!

Jessie Marino

Jessie Marino is a composer, performer, and media artist from Long Island, New York. Her work explores the repetition inside common activities, ritualistic absurdities, and uncovering nostalgic technologies. Jessie’s pieces score out sound, video, physical movements, lighting, and staging, which are then placed within organised temporal structures, fractured narratives and musical frameworks.

Much of Marino’s interdisciplinary compositional work eschews conventional instrumentation, with scores that ask performers to use their bodies—using precisely articulated gestures, facial expressions, and quotidian physical movements—both as an alternative and a complement to musical sounds.

Her work maps out the way humans communicate with their bodies on a performative timeframe, revealing the musicality hidden within everyday gesticulations, signs, and demonstrations, transmitted both consciously and unconsciously. Marino finds humour and profundity in personal interactions and the way humans navigate physical space—an improvisational act that can invoke a ballet, a dinner party or a demolition derby.

For more on Jessie, visit

Extra Credit

Using physical gestures in music is a lot of fun, but throws up some interesting challenges for notation! Composers have found many different ways to communicate information about movement to players. We’ll discuss some of these today, and work together to decide which approach will best suit your piece.

Here are a few of the works we’ll be looking at today: Mark Applebaum’s ‘Aphasia’, Matthew Shlomowitz’s ‘Letter Piece No.5’ and Jessie’s ‘737-800’. You might like to watch them for some extra inspiration as you decide on your own set of gestures!

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