If there is one trope that has become the lynchpin of the origin narratives of the young discipline of music performance studies, it is the idea that musical performance represents the "other" of the musical score. Many of the recent debates that effected a paradigm shift in music scholarship highlight the ontological and epistemological divergences between the score and musical performance, and also debunk the various myths and prejudices that have been woven around music performances and performers through the textualist paradigm, which essentialised and naturalised the musical score as the holder of "the music" and "the" source of disciplinary knowledge. Following the disciplinary "performative turn" during the twenty-first century, the effects of textualist habits of thought on scholarly discourses have been steadily on the wane. Nevertheless, the myth of a direct and immediate route between the score and performance - between the page and the stage - appears especially obstinate and continues to lurk around, particularly in the context of the analysis and performance literature. In this article, I discuss some of the complex embodied-affective processes that connect the page and the stage for performers, through case studies involving my performance experiences of a Corrente by J. S. Bach, a keyboard sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, and an excerpt from Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini". I argue that eradicating the deleterious effects of the textualist urge to discipline the performer's body and emotions, to assimilate their individuality into an enforced utopia and homogenise performance expression requires introducing, into scholarly thinking and discourses, all the deep level contingencies that I emphasise in this article as essential elements connecting musical texts and performances. It also requires analysts to give up the modernist de-historicising fantasy that allows them to regard themselves as privileged and exemplary listeners standing in for all auditors, and in the case of the analysis and performance literature, standing in for all performers. However much textualist habits might sideline the drastic qualities of musical performance in scholarly discourses, performers continue to be fleshly, willful, creative individual affectively committed to the unruly and dynamic realm of performance making, and invest their performances with aesthetic qualities that grow out of their lived experiences and intentions as they continually move between the page and the stage.
In this article, I aim to open up and explore the meaning making processes, from a performer’s perspective, that unfold in the creative space between the page and the stage that textualist approaches eliminated through their disembodied, ahistorical, essentialising and naturalizing discourses, and show the thoroughly contingent nature of these processes. One of the most significant arguments that will emerge from my discussion is that between the page and the stage are a large number of factors, including the uniquely embodied senses, artistic sensibilities, experiences and expert practical knowledge of each performer, that together constitute her artistic intentions, in the absence of which there would be no artistic musical performance. My discussion proceeds by drawing together critical evaluation of relevant scholarly literature, analytical thought, phenomenological enquiry and, most significantly, artistic research: the latter mobilizes the artistic processes of performance making as research tools and opens up novel lines of enquiry motivated by a performer’s expert knowledge about, as well as situated experiences of, performing music.