Is your music linked to movement, or are they more or less separate entities? Are the music and the movements fundamentally linked in some way? Does one take precedence over or rely on the other? How would the music or the movements change if they were divorced from the other? How does one affect the other? And any other questions that you think are relevant to the topic.
Addressing this issue has been a bit difficult for me since I notice a present dichotomy in my life as to when my personal music is and is not linked with movement. My belief is that music and movement are fundamentally linked. I also propose that when movement is seemingly absent it is, in some way, present.
Firstly I would like to explain my experience with music and movement.
Children automatically place music and action together. As a tiny tot I sang songs with accompanied hand motions, danced around in circles, and made strong connections between music and movement.
After pre-school, I was also placed in dance classes up until High School where I chose performance studies over dance. I participated in jazz, ballet, tap, and hip hop. In High School I participated in Show Choir where we sang and danced to each song. And, as I mentioned in my previous blog, I undertook bellydancing a few years ago.
Yes, these are all very obvious accounts of music and movement. However, I ask you to think about a time where you went to a gym and didn't hear music in the background. Or, I simply point out that in the group classes, like kickboxing and step, all of the exercise movements actually correspond with the music and beats.
So- all of these things and more that I have left unmentioned are my accounts of music and movement connecting in my life. However, I haven't mentioned my classical training at all (which I assume is to where the initial question points).
Many of us, the students in the Music of Diverse Cultures course, have been trained classically and play in an orchestra or wind ensemble. Perhaps, at first glance, many would say that in a performance setting or a recital hall the connection between music and movement are divorced. I thought this to be the case as well, until I thought more about the topic. We have been studying Native American music this week and the study has emphasized the decline in participatory music (when looking at classical music, concerts, and venues). However, I would argue that the participation simply manifests itself in different ways (active listening for the listeners/audience-Even though it is as if an audience member is simply looking in on a performance there is still an exchange and process of sharing that is taking place). And I would also argue that there is still movement.
Personally, when I play the piano or flute I actually move my body (shocking!). As a performer, a sharer of music, I actually feel what I am playing (for the most part) and I try to convey that through movement and expression, both visual and aural, to the listeners and watchers. No, the typical audience doesn't get up and start dancing. Yes, it is a different type of correspondance between music and movement. But- it still exists.
Likewise, in an ensemble I believe the movement of the bows, the director, and the players adds to the experience (although sometimes I admittedly close my eyes to rid myself of any distraction aside from the musical sounds). Even then (some of you may think this a stretch), I believe there is movement in the mind for both performer and listener. I see and experience movement as it relates to the music regardless of whether or not I am dancing or tapping my foot.
I am always awed when I watch a dancer manipulate their body and use it to represent the music to which they dance. I believe this is normal for most people. Perhaps we find this to be extraordinary not only because we have lost our own flexibility to age, but because dance is a tangible and visual way to represent the movement that occurs in each and every one of our minds.
I will probably revise this and expand upon it further once my thoughts are better organized. Also, an interesting question that arises when looking at music and movement: To what degree is our movement restricted by sets of rules and guidelines? And if it is restricted, then to what degree is the movement naturally linked to music? Is it really a bad thing that there are rules and techniques to dance? (For clarification, I do not think that the restrictions found at times in music and movement negate the fact that music and movement are fundamentally linked.)
Also, I found an interesting website. "Music, Living Body, and (E)motion"
Here is the "About" section, in case you are too lazy to open the link. I hope you find the first page as interesting as I did (I have been too lazy to read the whole website). The topic of research at hand corresponds directly with this topic.
AboutIn the realm of our everyday musical experience there are two dimensions, indistinguishable at any particular moment, and yet not reducible to one another: the external reality of conceptualized usical denotations, and the internal unconceptualized world of kinaesthetic gestures. Music research has traditionally tended to ignore the latter in favour of the former, thus placing the mind over the body. This is no surprise, considering the history of this Cartesian order in the whole Western culture. In analytical practises attention tends to focus on the cognitive rather than on the tactile, on the composition rather than on the performance, and on the extrinsic parameters of musical behaviour rather than on genuine musical experiences.
The paradigmatic mode of study concentrates on fixed transcription rather than on the audible music itself, and listening is regarded at best as an aid to analysis by vision. Formal music analysis ignores the potentiality of the corporeal elements of all music, and particularly music where the gesturing body is in the fore. Methodically, what is yet to be fully acknowledged, is the potential of the intuitive and internalized knowledge of practical music-making and dancing.
There seems to be a basic quasi-epistemological division between knowledge about music and music as knowledge. This has not helped institutionalized music research in finding answers to some seemingly central questions, such as: why do sounds affect? Exactly how does music give rise to emotion? What is the profound relation between music and dance? Music has its' apparent effects in people's lives - but what is the relation of these effects to the music itself? To seek answers to these questions, we propose an approach which has still had few applications in music research, but which presents an opportunity to seize music and dance in an immediate way: in this approach, the analysis begins with bodily informed intuition.