Marta Robertson

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:

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  • Applied Music
  • Ethnomusicology
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In addressing issues of how music and dance intersect, this article concentrates on three categories: first, dance sources that deal substantively with music or that are of particular interest to musicians; second, musical sources with an emphasis on dance; and third, the intersection between the two arts in dance-music and its contexts. Given that dancing and music making appear to be universal human behaviors, and that virtually all dance is performed to music, or in its absence to “silence,” the literature on dance music, its interrelationships with dance structures, dancers, and the shared cultural context of the two arts is vast. Methodologies for studying these interrelationships also are seemingly endless. They cut across the fields of music and dance and enjoin interdisciplinary considerations involving both, not to mention cultural or area studies. Understanding the relationship between dance and its dance music is fundamental to musicians’ performance as they accompanying dance in the dance studio or on stage. The interconnected structural elements of dance and its corresponding dance music, particularly articulations of time that they share, can be analyzed formally. The conceptual relationship between dance and its dance music, dancer and musician, and the dance-music complex and its cultural context, is culturally constructed. Thus, not only these relationships, but their meanings that also are culturally derived, vary across chronological time and geographical place. In some cultures, dance music can be transmitted without its corresponding dance, but in a majority of world music cultures, dance and music not only function in the same cultural space, they cannot be separated. For many of these cultures, dance can be theorized and analyzed as embodied music. In some cases, the dance and dancer are so fundamental to the music as to become yet another line in the overall texture. Dancing to music or making music for dance can occur simultaneously—sharing, for example, venues, meanings, and modes of transmission. Thus, studies of dance through a music perspective and music through a dance perspective can provide musicians with a richer context for understanding dance music, its formal structures, its contextual meaning, and the performance of these relationships.

Article.  12458 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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