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The International Guild of

Musicians in Dance

Volume 7
Winter 2007

The Journal

Music and Dance


Innovations in Music Technology,
Music Scholarship and Research,
in the Field of Music and Dance

The Journal Music and Dance


The journal Music and Dance is published by the International Guild of
Musicians in Dance for its members and other interested members of the
dance community. Its members are principally musicians who work in the
field of dance musicians who play for dance classes (ballet, modern, jazz,
ethnic, etc.), teachers of music for dance, conductors and composers in the
field of music and dance, and scholars.
The journal accepts articles on any subject related to the broad field of music
and dance, or even more broadly, articles about the relationship of sound and
movement. The journal is interested in encouraging practitioners in any area
of the field to submit scholarly works, journalistic documentation of creative
collaborations or performance, point of view articles, and articles about
technology. The journal is published whenever the editorial staff feels there is
an appropriate collection of articles of interest.

The International Guild of Musicians in Dance


The International Guild of Musicians in Dance was formed in 1990 to address
the particular concerns of musicians working in the field of art dance. The
Guild publishes a Journal, holds conferences, and maintains a website,
(http://www.dancemusician.org.). The website has news about the Guilds
activities and other resources for dance musicians, instructors and researchers.
The Guild also maintains a listserv, which hosts discussions among guild
members regarding issues of music and dance for professionals in the field.
Visit the website for information regarding joining the Guild and the listserv.

Editorial Board of the Journal Music and Dance


William Moulton Editor
Associate Arts Professor, New York University, New York City, NY
Suzanne Knosp Assistant Editor
Associate Professor, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
John Toenjes Guild President,
Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, IL
Please address queries concerning the journal to William Moulton
(william.moulton@nyu.edu).

Table of Contents
From the Editor
New Directions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - William Moulton

Point of View
A Survivors Guide for Musicians in Dance - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2
Steven Rush
Scholarship and Research
A Movement-Pattern Approach to Musical Organization - - - - - - - - - - 7
Andrew Warshaw

Il ballo delle ingrate: A Lost Genre Whose Time Has Come? - - - - - - 19


Andy Teirstein
Technology
Using Interactive Computer Applications to Integrate the
Arts and the Artists in Music and Dance - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - John Toenjes

26

Five Perspectives on Bringing Electronics into Dance Class

Using a Laptop as an Instrument


in a Dance Technique Class - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

31

Jon Scoville

Four Decades of Electronics in Class - - - - - - -

38

Neil Dunn

Reasoning with the DrumKAT:


Electronic Percussion in the Dance Class - - -

41

Robert Kaplan

Keith Fleming

Beat keeping, sound alteration, and


improvisational liberty through
music technology - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 48

Chris Peck

On Dance Class Accompaniment


with the Computer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

57

Track listings for enclosed CD - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 61

result people come in to the field with


all kinds of backgrounds, skills and ways
of working. In the end I think this has
been beneficial for the diversity of artistic vision and voices.
The second reason for our idiosyncratic approaches is that we are all so
separated geographically, and as a result, isolated artistically, that musicians
are forced to develop their own methods
and styles simply because theyve never
seen other ways that things could be
done. Theres little interchange of ideas,
except possibly at festivals. People end
up exploring on their own for many
years without ever having contact with
others on similar paths. This was the
reason that in 1990 we formed the International Guild of Musicians in Dance
to foster an exchange of ideas and to
provide a place for people to meet each
other and share concerns and enthusiasms. Of all the things the Guild has
tried, the conferences and journals have
been its biggest success.
We are not suggesting by highlighting these new trends in accompaniment that these are the cool new
ideas or the way of the future or any
such thing. Throughout the articles
youll hear the musicians doing these
experiments speaking of the continued
importance to them of acoustic music.
We do find it interesting that for many
years the accepted sounds in a modern
dance class were either made from a collection of percussion instruments or a
piano. Instrumentation has expanded,
and there are new sounds coming into
classes. Synthesis and sampling, electronic loops and layering, are all new
sounds, and because of the technology,
new ways of working with them is required.
What we are encouraging is experimentation. Develop your craft in as
idiosyncratic a way as you please, or in
as traditional a manner as you please
but experiment. Its not that we need
new in our field. What we need, as always, is quality. The problem is keeping

FROM THE EDITOR

New Directions
By William Moulton
This Journal highlights some new
directions in our field, both in terms of
scholarship (Andrew Warshaws interesting, and we think ground-breaking, article on a movement-based approach to
the analysis of music), and in our new
Perspectives Series on electronic instruments in the dance class.
In the Perspectives Series we ask
five musicians who use electronic instruments in dance classes to both reflect on this new trend in dance accompaniment and to describe what technology they use, and how they use it. We
asked them to
include enough
Staleness is the
specifics about
pitfall of our
the technology
isolation, and the
that others might
be emboldened to
only way to keep
try their hand
alive and healthy,
and have the first
artistically, is to
step into the
technology supkeep working at
plied by those
your art form and
whove already
developing yourspent the many
hours
finding out
self as an artist.
what worked and
how to plug it all
together. As youll see, theres a wide
variety of equipment and approaches.
This typifies our field a field marked
by a very broad range of idiosyncratic
approaches to almost every aspect of
dance and music from composing, to
accompaniment, to teaching.
There are two reasons for this idiosyncratic tendency in our field. First,
theres no accepted training ground,
which means theres no accepted path
into the field and no accepted criteria or
standard for entrance. (see Steven Rushs
article on surviving in academia) As a
1

yourself alive and vital while you play a


ballet class in Minnesota or Florida, or a
modern class at a small college in Kansas, or Chicago for that matter. Staleness
is the pitfall of our isolation, and the
only way to keep alive and healthy, artistically, is to keep working at your art
form and developing yourself as an artist.
This Perspectives Series is geared
for the modern dance class. We will, in
future journals, present a similar series
on playing for ballet and using percussion in dance classes. We hope these articles will inspire and encourage more
scholarly work, and a sharing of ideas
by writing in this, and other forums.

work with/against in-dialogue-with


movement material as composers, improvisers and performers. These abilities are unique to the world of art, and in
most cultures, are revered and subject to
their own distinct world of training. In
India in 1992 I visited the famous Kalakshetra College in Chennai, where musicians were about one-half of the student
population. The only purpose to the
curriculum? To become a great Musician for Dance. My American university
colleagues who travel frequently to
Ghana and Mali have noted that musicians, especially in West Africa, study
dance and music together, not as separate disciplines. Of
course other examples
are myriad in the Far We Musicians
and Middle East, and in Dance have
here at home, in Ap- a unique
palachia. The good
news is that there are capacity to
no standardized skill "see sound",
sets for Musicians in or "hear
Dance, nor should
there be. Each of us movement,"
has a unique training
that prepares us for
this career. The same cannot be said for
our present and future music colleagues
in academia, who have a more-or-less
standardized educational path leading to
a Ph.D., in their field.
I believe the main reason we
work as musicians in the field of dance is
that we love the idiom, and possess distinct intelligences with which to ally our
gifts with theirs. The question remains:
how to survive in this world? Dance departments in American universities grew
mostly out of physical education departments (from Bennington to UCLA)
and were the outgrowths of the physical
education dance requirements for
women in the mid- 20th-century. As
such, the most a university could afford
to do with their nascent department was
hire an excellent dancer, or maybe choreographer. Alas, due to funding, hiring
a musician who would work in tandem

William Moulton is the editor of this


Journal and is a composer and pianist
and teaches in the Department of Dance
at New York University

POINT OF VIEW

A Survivors Guide For


Musicians In Dance
By Steven Rush
The Problem:
When I was in graduate school my
colleagues would talk about our futures,
free-lancing in New York or Los Angeles, writing orchestral and chamber music. Few of us, if any, had a pragmatic
sense for employability as composers/
musicians, and none of us openly sought
employment in academe. Few of us, as
well, are actually employed doing what
we love.
We Musicians in Danceare doing
what we love. We have a unique capacity to "see sound", or "hear movement," to

derstanding of music theory. Being able


to improvise in the style of Brahms
means that you a) love Brahms, b) understand Brahms, and c) can, with great
immediacy, emulate the drama and syntax contained in his work. This is a rare,
rare ability. Celebrate it. Substantiate it.
Use it. Train it. Training might mean
many things to many people, i.e. being
an excellent cellist, pianist, percussionist,
etc. Perhaps it includes getting an Engineering degree (as some of today's best
musicians in dance have done they
play laptops!). Perhaps it means a postdoc in Aesthetics. Or a Master's in
Dance History. Or self-styling your own
degree (I studied Jazz Piano while pursuing a Master's and DMA at Eastman in
Composition!).
Assuming one's goal is to be a
full-time, tenure-track member of the
faculty at a U.S. college or university,
one should assume that a Ph.D. or DMA
is required. The painful fact is that most
of us grow into the field through vital
and circuitous paths, and this path does
not include the traditional academic
study of our main craft. So be it. Nonetheless, in order to be fully respected
and to be taken seriously in the long
haul of academic survival, this powerful
arbiter of both status and standard remains.
Now, with love, joy, intelligence,
and documentation of the same, let's
seek employment!

with the dancer was beyond the budget


or the foresight of our forbears. The
"Black Mountain" notion that a nexus for
creativity should include a dancer, a musician, and an artist (plus an architect!),
was not embraced nor envisioned in the
early stages of dance academia.
The history of these dance departments in the United States creates a
problem for musicians in those departments. There is a built-in "anti-priority"
for the musician. As such, many schools
employ staff musicians instead of faculty
for the music component in their curricula. Worse still, the musicians are
barely allowed a phone and office space,
let alone the dubious pleasure of a tenure-track line and benefits. How to survive in this world?
Packing for the Journey:
Interest in dance is the first item
in the dance musician's survival kit
unabashed enthusiasm for that which is
Dance. Aptitude for expressing this interest is the next
step. Can you
The polyglot job
imagine three
ways in sound to
description of
complement your
most dance
friend leaping
musician jobs
after a Frisbee?
Do you get tinimplies an utter
gles seeing dancmisunderstanding
ers leap against a
pulse (or with
of the value in each
it?)? Would you
of these functions.
do this for free?
These are measures of both interest and aptitude. The
trip is long and hard, and one's motivation has to be pure, honest, and vital.
One might check their aptitudes
further by asking Am I an improviser?
A composer? A concert pianist who
really would rather play with dancers
than chamber musicians? Evaluate your
musical skills. Can you improvise in
many styles, and maybe prefer that to
practicing Chopin Etudes? This means
you have a discretely spontaneous un-

The Job:
Jobs as musicians in dance are out
there. They exist. Know it and believe
it. Good jobs, however, are as rare as a
friendly Blue Jay or a Double Rainbow.
Most jobs will require the ability to teach
a Music Fundamentals class, play for at
least two classes a day (Modern and Ballet), coordinate all musicians for other
classes, create musical scores for student
and faculty concerts (usually meaning
dubbing/editing, but also writing music),
and possibly teach a choreography class.

There is no music curriculum in


the world to prepare one for such a task.
Preparing oneself for high-level performance on all of these fronts would
take a lifetime, indeed. The polyglot job
description of most dance musician jobs
implies an utter misunderstanding of
the value in each of these functions.
The result? Terrible edits, poor musical
choices, tendonitis, and useless onesemester "Intro to Music" courses that
wouldn't pass as a 4-week intensive in
most music schools! Know this, and take
what job you can get!
Knowing that these jobs are patently absurd in their requirements, however, can give you power to transform
the job into a reasonable load, and glean
out the things that you really want
what you enjoy doing, and allow you to
flourish as a musician and as a human
being. Make your job. Envision the long
term. Do you
see your arms
Most musicians in
being able to
handle
5 hours
dance have unique
of intense imaptitudes for
provisation a
improvisation.
day? Do you
see yourself visTeach improvisation.
iting grandchilWhether it's Dance,
dren in the
Jazz, Baroque
evening after a
day of "fading
ornamentation it
out/fading in"
makes no difference.
bad splices of
Bach Cello Sonatas?
Make
your job what you enjoy, what feeds
your soul, and what makes the craft better. Hire students (work-study, if possible) to do editing. Create more staff
musician jobs by taking deans/chairs out
for
lunch/drinks/bowling
and
"schmooze". Let people know what your
real interests are, and show them.
For example, at the University of
Michigan we have two tenured Musicians in Dance. One (me) teaches Dance
Improvisation, Dance and the Related
Arts, and Choreography. The other

(Christian Matjias) teaches Music and


Dance, Choreography, plays for classes,
and teaches a Graduate Seminar in Research Practice. We both compose sparingly for our colleagues and do a few
edits as needs arise (our students are
trained to do their own). This arrangement took 18 years to conjure and articulate. "Interesting and perfect things,"
says my friend LaMonte Young, "can
take longer than life." I received similar
advice from my AAUP representative.
Keeping the Job:
There might more ugliness ahead
on this difficult journey. We've seen
bumps in the road already, with education and job description issues, but this
next part can be even trickier. These
jobs, as noted above, are often confused
messes, where the joys and the requirements are frequently at odds with each
other. The results can be disastrous, and
frequently result in dissatisfied administrators and musicians. Below I provide a
few suggestions for smoother waters.

1). Work overtime


Why? Because the end is clear.
The goal is worth it. I remember many
nights where I did not go to bed, in order to finish copying an orchestra piece
or chamber work. Why is building a
profession any different? If your department/school does not offer a course
called "Dance and the Related Arts", start
one. This is an excellent way to hone
your own skills as a collaborator, as well
as guiding the next generation of collaborators toward intelligent and creative collaborations. Likewise, teach improvisation. Whether it's Dance, Jazz,
Baroque ornamentation it makes no
difference. Most musicians in dance
have unique aptitudes for improvisation,
especially multi-syntactical improvisation. This is the "wave" of the future
(whether you're a fan of Zorn, Braxton or
Jimmy Guiffre, "jazz" has always been a
polyglot mix of cultural fusion). Likewise, improvisation has been the life4

blood of composed music since the very


beginnings of notation. Claim your
knowledge, and substantiate it by teaching it and performing it.

these courses closer to the "core". Is this


subverting the system? No. In my opinion it's improving it. Whoever heard of
anyone volunteering to be on the curriculum committee? If you are a musician, working in dance, you should jump
at the chance.
Specifically, make your job description clear, and clarify it over time. I
was willing to teach Intro to Music History and play for 3 classes a day when I
was first hired. Now that Im nearing 50
Im less excited about this as my job description. Demand the same titles (Assistant Professor tenure track) that
your dance colleagues enjoy. Working
as a staff member, barely above the level
of a temporary secretary, will not fulfill
your artistic or career goals, nor have
you regarded as an equal collaborator as
an artist, nor an educator.

2. Be Visible
Just as importantly, ones visibility in the artistic world should go beyond the world of dance. To grow as a
musician one should be present in the
world of musicians, giving concerts of
whatever music we make. The myriad
possibilities are too numerous to generalize, since the kind of music-making we
dance musicians do is shockingly wider
than the narrow world of Classical Music, and likely to include everything
from noise-based improvisation concerts,
site-specific works, improvisation jams
and world music.
Examples of visibility by musicians refusing to be traditionally pigeonholed can be found
in such important
Simply put, when
figures as John
Cage and Lou
asked about my
Harrison. A study
role in the dance
of their performance careers could
department,
prove helpful as we
often my answer
create paradigms
is simply, "to
for both our progress in the field,
bring more
as well as litmus
musicians into
tests for success
the building."
within it. I referred
specifically to the
One can't do it by
career of David
staying in the
Tudor when disbuilding.
cussing my own
career path in a recent document prepared for my promotion to Full Professor not that I am another David Tudor, nor did I create the
career path that he so wonderfully trod
one generation before me.
Many of these courses do not exist, but students are hungry for them.
Create them, and teach them as overloads for a time. Then permeate the collusive world of the curriculum and put

3) Invade other departments


This is not wholly unrelated to number
one. My 2nd and 3rd years at the University of Michigan I taught 6 or 7
courses a semester as a means to seating
myself in the Theory, Composition,
Technology and Jazz Departments. I
don't do that now. But it was a means to
an end that was finite. Do it. One builds
allies and friends around the campus.
Your sense of alone-ness is dispersed.
One finds more collaborators for faculty
and students, and more people to bring
music into the dance building. Simply
put, when asked about my role in the
dance department, often my answer is
simply, "to bring more musicians into
the building." One can't do it by staying
in the building.
Make a point to get to know the
Music Faculty at your school. Often
Dance Departments are situated (physically) away from the Music Department.
Dont accept this physical limitation as
indicative of an artistic separation. We
are all making art in the same material
world, and because something or someone is in a different building does not
mean they are in a different world.
5

Traverse the physical space, and get to


ing load. It will only continue to place
know all of your colleagues (this may
you as a "less-than" in your department.
include the Art faculty, Film/Video/
There is an ethic involved with
Theatre/Engineering etc.).
our love for the field. Often this ethic
Offer to teach courses in the Muleads us to see ourselves as a support
sic Department. Integrate your skills
person, rather than one who takes the
with the needs of the Music Department,
artistic lead on projects. Making a sound
as well as the Dance Department. Imedit for a dance colleague (for instance)
provisation, especially, is an art that emcan be one of two things: 1) a statement
braces many art forms. You, as a musiof who we are as a musician protecting
cian in dance, probably have a prolific
the integrity of the music, questioning
skill at improvisation. Learn how to
the music choice itself, procuring rights
transmit that skill to other musicians.
for the creation of the edit, or suggesting
You also have an ability to discuss the
more artistically sensible solutions, or 2)
shape and form of a piece of music
simply being a worker bee in a subserthrough years of collaboration with
vient position. This example is a metadancers you will make an excellent
phor for our approach to work in genmusic theory teacher!
eral. Do support work in a way that reBe visible. Do concerts. Attend
spects the art of Dance, and the place of
concerts. Double dip
Music within that field. At
write acoustic pieces for
the same time, demand reyour dance colleagues and There is an ethic inspect for your own artistry
get repeat performances of volved with our love for
and time. It is all one thing.
them as concert works. Put
Finally, trust the process. You
the field. Often this ethic
them on recitals in the Muare doing what you love.
sic Department. Get the leads us to see ourselves
This is worth it. Music and
faculty to play them. Pub- as a support person,
Dance will outlive our time,
lish them. Get more perour aesthetic predispositions,
formances around the rather than one who
and certainly the model of
country and the world. The takes the artistic lead on
teaching Dance that thrives
same is true of a perform- projects.
in universities and colleges
ance career. Be visible.
today. Your mark on the
field should be an artistic
4. Be an Artist Commission Your Own
mark, and you can't do that holed up in
Work
a musty closet splicing tape with antiHalf of my projects in the last ten
quated equipment (wearing an ice-pack
years have been Musician contacting
on a Carpel-tunneled forearm). Make
Choreographer for a project. The ideas
your mark in the field by bringing to it
were mine (or co-ideated with a writer or
the artistry that is uniquely yours, as an
visual artist) and funded. Reject the diimproviser, composer, performer and
minutive role of collaboration for one
teacher in the field of Music, in Dance.
that takes equal responsibility (or more!)
for the resultant work. This is equally
Stephen Rush is a composer and teaches
true of one's role in the classroom. For
years I have rejected the term "Dance
Dance, Music, Art and Engineering students at the University of Michigan, and
Accompanist" (see Chekhov's story by
tours with his multi-media Jazz trio,
the same name). The term will not get
you tenure. The term will not get you a
Yuganaut.
commensurate salary to the person you
http://www.music.umich.edu/faculty
are "accompanying". The term will not
staff/rush.stephen.lasso
get you a respectable and realistic teach6

SCHOLARSHIP AND RESEARCH

music. As with traditional musical elements such as harmony, rhythm, pitch,


and form, the movement patterns can be
named and categorized. The musical
functions of the patterns can be analyzed. These patterns offer a means by
which movement human movement
may be considered as a musical element.
For dance musicians, this can be a powerful, creative and analytic tool.

A MOVEMENT-PATTERN
APPROACH TO MUSICAL
ORGANIZATION
By Andrew Warshaw

Dance musicians need practical,


insightful approaches to relationships
between music and human movement.
THE FOUR MOVEMENT PATTERNS
This is not because movement/music
correspondences are hard to find, but
By considering human movement as
because most are metaphors.
an
accumulation
of abilities perfected
Music can be danced. Movement
over
hundreds
of
millions of years of
can be musicalized. Metric
vertebrate evolution, Dr.
structures, phrase divisions
Temple Fay, a Philadeland accents may be shared
phia neurosurgeon, proI am proposing a new
between the mediums; and
posed a helpful taxonomy
bodily shapes and tensions model for the correspon(Fay,
1952). First, he classimay be represented by con- dence between music and
fied
the
locomotor patsonant and dissonant tones.
terns of progressively
Yet even the most overt cor- human movement,
complex vertebrate sperespondences
b e t w e e n based on movement
cies. Then, he correlated
movement and music juxta- patterns neurologically
these patterns with lowpose events of different nabrain, mid-brain, and
tures. Unless the movement hard-wired through
high-brain
activity in huitself creates sound, the only millions of years of
mans. Using his patternunambiguous correspon- vertebrate evolution.
classifications in therapy
dence between a musical acfor neurologically imcent and a movement accent
paired patients, he demis that they take place at the same moonstrated
how
these stages of vertebrate
ment.
movement
underlie
human locomotive
In my manuscript Musical Orgamovement. Refined in later writings by
nization and the Evolutionary Origins of
occupational therapist and movement
Human Movement , I propose a novel
researcher
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
model for correspondences between mu(1993),
among
others,1 Fays taxonomy
sic and human movement. The model is
includes five basic patterns. The first,
based on a small taxonomy of moveapproximately 350,000,000 years old
ment patterns, neurologically hard(Fay, 1968), originates with fish:
wired through millions of years of vertebrate evolution. These patterns are
components of every human locomotive
1
Irmgard Bartenieff, student of Rudolph Labans,
movement.
and
a noted teacher and movement theoretician, parMusicians use these same moveallels
a similar neuro-developmental theory of locoment patterns in creating and performmotion with Labans complexity of degrees of
ing music. Correlations between the
movement (1974). Bartenieff herself originated a
movement patterns of locomotion and
training system called Fundamentals, whose descripthe movement patterns of music-making
tions of Body Part Relationships include striking parreveal encoded movement content in
allels to Fay's taxonomy.
7

1.

2.
3.

4.

5.

stages signal progressively sophisticated


neurological capabilities pertinent to
human movement is what matters
here. Cohen provides a helpful terminology for Fays patterns (see illustrations this page and next):

The ocular-head-neck-trunk-tail sequence . . . a chainlike reaction . . . ,


the movement of the eel, newt,
snake, and weasel (Fay, 1952).
The . . . hopping pattern of the amphibian [frog. Upper extremities together, lower extremities together].
The . . . homolateral . . . movement of
the amphibian [salamander. Upper
and lower extremity movement in
unison on the same side].
The cross-diagonal . . . pattern of
movement of the reptile [turtle. Upper extremity of one side synchronized with the lower extremity of the
other].
Modified cross-diagonal pattern of
movement and extremity . . . as
elaborated by the mammal and upright human forms (Fay, 1968).

1. Spinal movement as with snake,


fish, or eel
2. Homologous movement uppers together, lowers together
3. Homolateral movement right upper
and right lower advance together
4. Contralateral movement (a combination of Fays 4th and 5th patterns) right
upper advances with left lower
Each of these four patterns is
used in making music. This article, however, will examine only the three patterns in which the limbs (of vertebrates,
and of musicians) are involved: Homologous, Homolateral, and Contralateral Patterning.

The actual distribution of Fays


categories among vertebrates is not
quite as neat as his list suggests. His second pattern (upper extremities together, lower extremities
together)
is
found
These four stages
not only in amof vertebrate
phibians, but also
in rabbits, kangadevelopment signal
roos, and dogs
progressively
and horses (on
sophisticated
the run). Reptiles,
such as alligators,
capabilities
fit his third patpertinent to
tern, as do gihuman movement.
raffes.
In the movements of higherorder vertebrates, lower (more neurologically primitive) movement patterns are still present. They may function in a supportive role for the higher
pattern, as, for example, when spinal integrity and stability contribute to a fast
and efficient crawling motion. They may
also provide alternative locomotion
strategies. Humans, with our array of
locomotive abilities, are a good example
of this.
Fays basic point that these

SPINAL PATTERNING
MouthHeadNeck
SpineTail

The divers Spinal Patterning directs her


movement.

HOMOLOGOUS PATTERNING
Uppers push or reach together.
Lowers push or reach together.
CONTRALATERAL PATTERNING
Left upper and right lower extremities
advance together.

The Homologous reach supports


movement into space.

A critical movement-pattern concept concerns the significance of the


bodys vertical midline, down the center
of the face and torso, extending between
the legs:
H o m o l o g o u s movement is symmetrical around the midline. A mother
reaches for her child with both arms
equally outstretched. A percussionists
arms mirror each other when he crashes
cymbals directly together.

HOMOLATERAL PATTERNING
Same-side upper and lower extremities flex
or extend in unison.

Homolateral movement involves a


midline division, by which right side and
left side may alternate. A speaker gestures as she talks, indicating first on one
hand, then on the other hand, firmly
discriminating between the two.
A further Homolateral organization is one in which one side of the body
provides a stable support for the movement of the other side. A baby, who has
pulled herself upright by holding on to a
sofa, cruises the furniture by securing

The archer is not locomoting, but Homolateral


Patterning supports her action.

one hand, planting the foot below that


hand, then reaching out with the other
hand (or foot, or both). Because Contralateral movement is often initiated with
the reach of an upper limb,2 the babys
Contralateral potential may be drawn
into play if she reaches too far (resulting
in movement that surprises the baby and
alarms onlookers). However, the initial
stabilizing movement is a Homolateral
impulse.

metrical accentuation patterns between


the hands of a typist, passing strokes
seamlessly back and forth between left
and right as he works.
Exploring the Patterns
These four Basic Neurological
Patterns (Cohen, 1993) should be experienced physically if they are to be understood intellectually. It is recommended
that the reader briefly explore these patterns with improvised movement. A
large space is not necessary. Nothing
else will impart as immediate a sense of
the connections suggested here.

Contralateral movement involves a


dynamic diagonal counterbalancing of
limbs across the bodys midline. A
goalie fields a ball and boots it, left arm
rising with right foot. This promotes spiraling movement in the spine. (The
cruising baby spins and twirls as she
falls against the sofa, landing miraculously nonplussed.) Adding the crossbody support of the Contralateral to the
same-side stability of the Homolateral
pattern completes a bodys repertory of
ways to stabilize and support movement.
The body can coordinate and balance,
regardless of how, or on what side,
movement is initiated. Thus, Contralateral neurological organization permits a
body to infinitely vary the rhythms of
initiation between its sides. A soccer
player dribbles, fakes, and stunts, stabilizing with his torso and uppers against
the syncopations of his feet as necessary.
The same capabilities underlie the asym-

Spinal Movement: roll on the floor without


using limbs; softly ripple spine from head to
tailbone and back.
Homologous Movement: leapfrog; breaststroke; hop like a kangaroo; bench-press,
push-up, pull-up; pound on the table for
dinner; reach with both hands for a child.
Homolateral Movement: walk like Frankenstein (same-side arm and leg moving forward together); stand like an archer, extended arm forward over straight front leg;
grip same-side arm and leg on a rock surface while climbing, reaching out with the
opposite hand or leg.
For Contralateral Movement: walk; cakewalk; can-can; strut; sprint; creep like a cat;
swing a baseball bat and watch followthrough.

THE MOVEMENT PATTERNS IN


THE HANDS OF THE MUSICIAN

These neuromuscular coordinations, so called by


Cohens student Linda Hartley (1994), may occur in
movement in any plane. Therefore, some movementpatterns initiate as a push down towards the ground,
or off another surface. Other movement-patterns
reach out into space, drawing the body after it
(Cohen, 1993). The manner of the initiation of a
pattern can be important to its definition. Homolateral patterns usually involve the push of a limb
against the ground or some other surface of support.
Contralateral coordination in a vertebrate neurologically capable of it tends to result when an
upper limb reaches far out from a body, drawing the
opposite lower limb into play to balance locomotion.

In applying these neurological


patterns to music making, I am proposing a new terminology for the movements of playing an instrument.3 At the
3

Musical Organization and the Evolutionary Origins


of Human Movement charts characteristic deployments of these movement patterns on percussion (two
limbs and four), piano and strings. Examination of
their role in singing, and in wind and brass music, is
also discussed. For brevitys sake, the discussion in
this article will be limited to the expression of neu-

10

piano, the movements perpendicular


neurological patterns.6 However, the
to the keyboard of arms, hands, and
concerns of this article (again for brevfingers, that make notes sound, will be
itys sake) will be limited to neurological
called strike movements. The side-topattern expression in strike moveside movements of arm, hand, and finments only. Further: though in my
gers that position strikes up and down
longer manuscript I discuss pattern exthe keyboard, over different notes, will
pression in the movement of a single
be called sweep movehand, this article will examments.4
ine only the pattern expresThe musical interest
sion of the two hands linked
In their simplest manifesta- of this approach is a
in coordinated strikes. The
tions at the piano:
terminology thus refers to
result of the fact that
Linked Homologous, Linked
Homologous strike pat- each pattern has a
Homolateral, and Linked
terning results in the two distinctive personContralateral Strikes at the
hands striking the piano at
piano and in the hands of a
alitiy.
precisely the same time.
percussionist.
The musical interest of
Homolateral strike patterning means
this approach is a result of the fact that
the hands are independent, but not ineach neurological pattern has charactervolved in complex interdependent cooristic, dependable, particular and fardination of impulses. A paradigmatic
ranging musical effects. They have disHomolateral strike pattern is strict, metinctive personalities and combine in inchanical, alternation between the hands.
teresting ways.7 This brief introduction
of the terms will principally focus, how Contralateral strikes, though occurring
ever, on distinguishing the Linked Strike
in many different kinds of sequences of
patterns one from the other.8
LH and RH strikes, are characterized by
accents tossed back and forth between
6
Strike creates rhythm. On a keyboard, fingerthe hands. Contralateral coordination
board, or fretboard, sweep creates change of pitch.
creates conversation between the LH
For a percussionist, sweep may involve change of
and RH: syncopated, smooth, or jointly
timbre or pitch. Every passage on an instrument can
articulate.5
be analyzed for the interaction of strike and sweep
Sweep movements can also be
components of neurological patterns. The interdependence of strike and sweep movements is underunderstood as expressions of specific

lined by the fact that each can be defined, in a neurological pattern sense, by its initiation and by the
relation of limb movement to midline (see p. 9).
7
Cohen (1993; Hartley, 1991) describes each movement-pattern as embodying what she calls the patterns mind, an affective state incorporating psychological and kinesthetic qualities. Something of
this nature may be experienced as each pattern is explored in movement.
8
Space also restricts discussion of this important
aspect of pattern-expression: the notion that musical
listening involves the (unconscious) recognition of
these patterns. Godoys work on motor-mimetic musical cognition (2001, 2004) suggests mechanisms for
this. Future investigation of the extent to which the
movement-patterns are recognized in music might
compare the affective experience of musical passages
and movement-patterns.

rological patterns at the piano and in percussion


playing (with hands or sticks).
4
Sweep also may involve a succession of finger
strikes, in a stationary hand, that creates pitch
changes.
5
Most (but not all) instrumental music making involves only the upper extremities. How can these
movement patterns, that describe relationships of
upper extremities and lowers, be applied as actions of
only the uppers? The reply is that just as motor programs for many activities are measurable in the
brain without physical execution of the program
(Haslinger, et al., 2005; Naito, et al. 2002), so are
these patterns complete neurological expressions with
only partial physical realization.

11

grace notes are not consequential in regard to the patterning). This is Homologous patterning at work in the arms,
forceful and bounding.
Pianists II and IV use strict
LH/RH alternation: LRLRLRLRLR etc.
Their patterning is Homolateral.
The juxtaposition of patterns here
the forcefully expressive, almost impulsive Homologous patterning of Pianos I and III and the propulsive, somewhat mechanistic version of Homolateral patterning in II and IV helps to
establish the signal ferocity of Les Noces at its very first notes.

HOMOLOGOUS AND
HOMOLATERAL MUSICAL
ORGANIZATION
For a pianist or a percussionist,
Linked Homologous Strike patterns always involve the simultaneous sounding
of impulses by LH and RH:

In Pianos I and III (Ex. 1.), LH and


RH strike in near-perfect unison (the

The forcefully
expressive,
almost impulsive
Homologous
patterning helps
to establish the
signal ferocity of
Les Noces at its
very first notes.

Example 1: Stravinsky, Les Noces, First Tableau, Rehearsal #1, m. 1-7

However, Linked Homolateral


Strike patterning also supports more nuanced relations between LH and RH.9
The specific qualities of Homolateral
organization, as expressed in movement
or understood affectively, appear in a
variety of musical figures. For instance,
Linked Homolateral Strikes can be prolongated slightly without destroying

homolateral coordination. On a snare


drum, a double-stroke roll is a Homolateral pattern.

A triple-stroke would be the same: the


arms forceful and bounding.

See Ex. 3, and many other Classical homophonic


chord/melody textures. In these passages the limbs
are set off one from the other, such that one side supports and the other sings.

12

Homolateral musical patterns


alternate between the hands, but remay also include instances of strikes that
mains in a single hand, then the resultsound simultaneously in both hands.
ing pattern will reflect the relative deThis is because Homoliberation and stability of
lateral patterning is a neuHomolateral patterning.
rologically "higher" level As long as accentuaBelow, accented strikes
coordination than Hoin a single hand (RH) may
mologous; thus lower tion does not alternate
seem to make the impulses of
Homologous capabilities between the hands, the
the hands somehow too differare subsumed by and in- resulting pattern will
ent for Homolateral patterncluded within the Homoing. This is not the case. The
lateral capabilities. A body reflect the stability
mark of homolaterality is difthat is able to move homo- of Homolateral patferentiation between the sides.
laterally will also have terning.
Accentuation in one hand that
Homologous patterns in its
is not thrown to the other
repertoire.
hand simply creates a HomoIn the following patterns, alterlateral Strike structure:
nating (Homolateral) Strikes effectively
integrate Homologous unisons, expanding the set of textures expressive of
Homolateral organization.
As Homolateral accent patterns
in a single hand grow progressively
complex, it might be anticipated that
they will eventually suggest the higher
levels of organization implied by
Contralateral movement patterning. The
reality is that the forms of Homolateral
organization are surprisingly varied.
Example 2: Linked Homolateral Strike (incorporating Homologous elements)

also imply an answering note in the LH. That implication of a LH answer can be enough to suggest a
Contralateral tossing of accents between lines.
Thus, the musical phrase endings that most surely
preserve Homolateral conditions are on the beat.
A related concept is developed in Musical
Organization and the Evolutionary Origins of Human
Movement. There, an analogy is posited between
species of counterpoint and the strike sequences
typical of different neurological patterns. Generally,
unresolved dissonances, that in species writing produce expectation of consonant resolution, correspond
well to accented strikes in one hand that might be
expected to be answered by the other hand. In this
analogy, Contralateral Strike organization occurs as a
kind of 4th species syncopation: an accented strike
that may be tied over to the next beat, while notes
in another part sound against it.

Alternation marks homolaterality


because its simplicity preserves the distinction of the sides. Moreover, Homolateral organization, as the second
phrase in Ex. 2 demonstrates, is stable
enough that an offbeat phrase beginning in one of the parts does not disrupt
the clear sense of division between the
hands.10 As long as accentuation does not
10

An offbeat ending to a phrase is a different matter.


In such a case:

the accentuation that accrues agogically to the final


note of the RH (especially as followed by a rest), may

13

enough that the musical strike pattern


remains Homolateral.

Here is a gait pattern that typically would be produced with Contralateral locomotion a forward-pointing
lower limb counterbalanced (at the initial leap on the first beat) by an opposite
forward-pointing upper limb:

Other complexities of musical


line, such as rests in one hand, will not
necessarily mar clear differentiation between LH and RH parts. Ex. 3 is another
instance of Linked Homolateral Strike.
If there is any accentuation here it proceeds from the terraced melody and
phrasing in the RH only:

However, if two hands on a drum produce the sound of this movement pattern, the consistency of accents in the
RH will keep the hands differentiated

Example 3: Mozart, Sonata in Bb, K.333, I

Finally, an instance of Linked Homolateral Strike in the LH:

CONTRALATERAL MUSICAL
ORGANIZATION

In both of these patterns accentuation is thrown from one hand to the


other.

Homolateral patterning establishes differentiation of the limbs, but


Contralateral patterning supports intricate conversation between them. Whenever accents pass quickly across the midline from one hand to the other
whether by dynamic level, durations, or
melodic factors the result is coordination with distinctly Contra-lateral agility.

14

In the first measure of Ex. 4, the


RH strike tied to beat two at the final
sixteenth of beat one is answered by the
LH at the beginning of beat two. This

transfers an accent to the LH, creating


contralaterality.

Ex. 4: Joplin, Sunflower Slow Drag, mm. 5-8

In the similar instance of Ex. 5,


mm. 5-6 provide a good example of accentuation transferred between the
hands. The Linked Strikes that in m. 5
begin with the entrance of the bass
nearly are Homolateral, but for the syncopation in beat one of the RH.

Contralaterality is confirmed when the


impulse behind the offbeat, tied, last
eighth-note in the RH of m. 5 is answered by the strike of the first LH note
of m. 6. This melodic gesture, shifting
attention from the line of one hand to
the other, is repeated at the next measure.

Contralateral
patterning
produces a
different kind
of flow than
Homolateral.
It is more
complex,
nuanced and
perhaps more
magical.
Ex. 5: Bach, J.S., Fugue XXI, Well-Tempered Clavier, Bk. I, m. 1-8

Fast eighth note and sixteenth


note mixed meter between hands also
creates the contralaterality of a conversation across the midline. The uneven
durations two LH answers to the RH at
the end of each bar create an agogic
effect in the group of three eighth notes.

Even without any intentional LH dynamic accentuation, one feels the


throw back to the RH:

15

In fact, practically any syncopation emerging from L/R alternation involves contralateral coordination between the hands. When one hand delays
the anticipated accented answer to a
previous strike, or a hand creates asymmetry by striking unexpectedly, contralaterality occurs.

APPLICATIONS OF
MOVEMENT-PATTERN
MUSICAL ORGANIZATION
The work of dance musicians requires visceral response to movement.
With some physical experimentation
and observation, musicians can learn to
quickly recognize neurological pattern
expression in movement and thus expand the range of their reactions.
Whether a musician chooses to accompany specific movement-patterns in a
dancer with music of the same pattern
expression, or that of a contrasting pattern, consistent, highly individuated
movement-music compounds result.
Suppose movement with a high
degree of Homologous content is accompanied by music that also has a high
degree of Homologous conDance musicians
tent. The convercan learn to
sation between
quickly recognize
the two mediums
tends to be that
neurological
of definitive, depattern expression
clarative, often
in movement and
forceful, partners.
Homologous
thus expand the
musical
expresrange of their
sion, through the
reactions.
arms and hands,
may be subtle in
touch and placement, but it is on the
whole more purposeful than tentative.
Homologous movement and Homologous music may parry, explode, bound,
or bind together in primal gestures.
However, if movement or music should
transition into Homolateral organization, the quality of the movement/music
relationship will instantly change. A
foreground/back-ground relationship
may result.
Although the following illustration of Homologous/Homolateral

Contralateral patterning produces


a different kind of flow than does Homolateral. It is more complex, nuanced
and perhaps somehow more magical.
This is true even in cases with no syncopation, or perfectly symmetrical LH/RH
alternation. The accents sound as
though they are tossed back and forth,
purposefully. Each accenting hand
seems almost to reach forward to receive
the accent. In such cases, it is clarifying
to remember that contralaterity in
movement is initiated by reaching.
(Again, see Note 2.)

and

Practically any polyrhythmic


Linked Strikes, even the most mechanical and regular, will be Contralateral.
Resultant (compound) rhythms linger in
earshot and will pass sounds quickly between the hands:

16

content is not cross-disciplinary,11 it may


ships. Again, music created with pattern
still be useful. In homophonic music of
entities in mind is music that can refine,
the Classical era, many RH melodies (on
or deepen, the play of these elements.
the piano, and played in octaves) move
The new terminology proposed
forward with unison strikes of the finhere can be used in musical improvisagers of a single hand. An accompanitions, compositions, and analyses. It is
ment figure, however, (for instance, an
not difficult to imagine a rhythmic figAlberti bass), may deploy with an enure realized in Homologous, then Hotirely different quality alternating L
molateral, then Contralateral coordinaand R sides of the hand in a manner
tions. Each coordination produces a
characteristic of Homolateral organizaunique version of the figure one might
tion. Such paradigmatic opposition of
be monophonic, another polyrhythmic.
Homolateral and Homologous patternThe variety of expressions of a single
ing may be imitated in many different
idea is one of the primary subjects of
presentations of music and
composition and improvisamovement.
tion; and movement-pattern
Conscious control of
Such specific juxtaposiexploration can suggest new
movement-pattern
tions of pattern content have
pathways to musical variety.
unique clarity, internal reso- elements gives the
Musical analysis using
nances, and physical logic. musician, or the
the movement-pattern termiConscious control of movenology can provide novel dement-pattern elements gives dancer, tools to craft
scriptions of vectors and
the musician, or the dancer, the most effective
forces at work in a compositools to craft the most effective combinations for
tion. We say a passage is Concombinations for particular
tralateral and mean that it is
particular aesthetic
aesthetic ends.
produced with Contralateral
When musicians col- ends.
patterning. However, movelaborate with other artists in
ment-pattern terms also promedia that represent or imply
vide an analytic language for
human movement patterns film, phoperceived locomotive forces in the music
tography, painting, sculpture, even lititself. Features representative of a single
erature pattern analysis can be useful.
type of patterning or a combination of
Paintings or photographs move, whenpatterns mark musical passages, transiever a viewer imagines, and thus protions, transformations and developjects into the picture, the moments proments. Thus, sophisticated accounts of
ceeding or successive to the instant capthe locomotive sub-structure of a piece
tured in the frame. There may be
of music can be produced with this termovement-pattern implied in the twist
minology. Musical Organization and the
of a torso, the set or thrust of limbs, or
Evolutionary Origins of Human Movethe particular quality of internal support
ment contains examples of such analydepicted in a body. In film or on stage
sis.
the bodies of actors make movementThe Homologous, Homolateral,
and Contralateral Linked Strike patpattern statements with clarity compaterns of the above examples are only
rable to dancers. A musician whose muthree of approximately twenty categosic counterpoints practically any image
ries of movement-pattern presentations
of the body is operating in an arena of
in Musical Organization and the Evoluneuro-developmental pattern relationtionary Origins of Human Movement.
11
Other
categories include the sweep
It also relies on pattern expression in single, as
components,
characteristic appearances
opposed to linked hands, a concept I have not deof
the
patterns
in individual hands, and
veloped here, but address in my larger manuscript.
17

appearances in specific textural combinations. This article, the briefest of introductions to musical organization
The new termiexpressive of evolutionary movenology proposed
ment patterns, is
here can be used
the starting point
in musical
of an inquiry that I
hope other dance
improvisations,
musicians will join.
compositions,
Dance muand analyses.
sicians have access
to collaborators
skilled in movement experimentation and observation.
They may also have, because of their associations and because of what they have
learned in collaboration, a sharper
awareness of their own physicality. Thus
dance musicians are uniquely qualified
to help map relationships among the
patterns, create an awareness of their
functions, and pioneer their use in improvisation, composition, and other musical projects.

Godoy, R.I. (2001). Imagined Action, Excitation,


and Resonance. In: Godoy, R.I. & Jorgensen, H.
(Eds.), Musical Imagery (pp. 237-250). Lisse:
Swets & Zeitlinger B.V.
Godoy, R. (2004) Gestural Imagery in the Service
of Musical Imagery. In: Camurri, A. & Volpe, G
(Eds.), GW2003, LNAI 2915, pp.55-62. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Haslinger, B., Erhard. P., Altenmuller, E., Schroeder, U., Boecker, H., Ceballos-Baumann, A.O.
(2005). Transmodal Sensorimotor Networks during Action Observation in Professional Pianists.
Journal of Cognitive Neurosciences 17(2), 282-293.
Hartley, L. (1989). Wisdom of the Body Moving.
Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We
Live By. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in
the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic
Books.
Naito, E., Kochiyama, T., Kitada, R., Nakamura,
S., Matsumura, M., Yonekura, Y., Sadato, N.
(2002) Internally Simulated Movement Sensations during Motor Imagery Activate Cortical
Motor Areas and the Cerebellum. Journal of
Neurosciences 22, 3683-3691.

Bibliography
Developmental Movement images used by permission of Contact Editions. Infant, reptile and
amphibian images drawn by Janice Geller.

Bartenieff, I. (1974). Space, Effort and the Brain.


Main Currents, Vol. 31 (1), 37-40.
Brooks, R. (1999). Cambrian Intelligence: The
Early History of the New AI. Cambridge: MIT
Press.
Cohen, B. (1993). Sensing, Feeling, and Action.
Northampton: Contact Editions.

Andrew Warshaw is a composer and


writer and Assistant Professor of Music
and Dance at Marymount Manhattan
College, NYC.

Fay, T. (1952). The Evolution of Basic Patterns of


Movement in Man, Their Diagnostic Significance
in Spastic Failure. In: Wolf, J. (Ed.), Temple Fay:
Progenitor of the Doman-Delcato Treatment
Procedures. Philadelphia: Temple Books.
Fay, T. (1968). Human Walking Patterns A
Symphony of Movements of the Past. In: Wolf, J.
(Ed.), Temple Fay: Progenitor of the DomanDelcato Treatment Procedures. Philadelphia:
Temple Books.

18

SCHOLARSHIP AND RESEARCH

of music. Dance, and poetry, brought to


a climax in Monteverdis Il ballo delle
ingrate, might serve as a guiding example for composers, choreographers, and
collaborative writers in the twenty-first
century.
In the Renaissance, the term ballo
was used to describe the lively dance following the stately, slow bassa danza. The
juxtaposition of two pieces of contrasting rhythmic impetus is at the origin of
the dance suite, a form that was to have
enormous formal repercussions in the
development of instrumental and vocal
music as well as ballet. Toward the last
decades of the 1500s various works of a
more dramatic nature began appearing
with ballo in the title, often as the final
parts of intermedi , which were sung
spectacles, or proto-operas, performed
between the acts of plays. Most of these
emerging forms were presented at court
festivities honoring the ruling princes,
such as marriages or visits by foreign
royalty.
The occasion of Il ballo delle ingrate was the marriage of Francesco
Gonzaga and Margherita of Savoy in the
early summer of 1608. Monteverdis contributions to the celebrations were considerable. In addition to the ballo , he
contributed music to a Chiabrera intermedi for Guarinis play, Lidropica and
composed the opera Arianna. Each of
these works was a re-envisioning of their
respective genres. Although Monteverdi
had composed balli before this event, Il
ballo delle ingrate relied on the dramatic through-line to a greater extent
than the earlier endeavors, and is an example of the genre in its most evolved
and independent form. Significant contributions were made by Ottavio Rinuccini, Monteverdis poet/collaborator on
both the opera Arianna and Il ballo delle
ingrate, who had visited France and returned to Italy with ballet de cour concepts.
The integration of dramatic, scenic, musical and balletic elements was
accelerated by a spirit of intense creative

Il ballo delle ingrate:


A Lost Genre Whose
Time Has Come?
By Andy Teirstein
Music in the late 16th century was
in a state of serial marriage to other art
forms, with poetry foremost among
them. Composers and poets wrestled
with various ways to combine their arts,
exploiting the
Among the shared
tension between
the abstract imroots of opera and
pulse inherent in
ballet, we find a
music and the
short-lived form in
concretism of
words.
What
which words,
later
became
music and dance
known as opera
began as one of
were dramatically
many forms of
intertwined: the
spectacle, most of
ballo.
which involved
dance or some
physical enactment, such as tournament,
pageant, or masque. It is curious, then,
that the movement arts gradually became submerged in the depths of abstraction, remaining aloof from the poetic tradition, except for thematic association. There is no sung dance form in
the catalogue of viable Western performance genres. At the point where
narrative time begins to vie for center
stage, the dance becomes a non-lingual
genre.
However, among the shared roots
of opera and ballet, we find a short-lived
form in which words, music and dance
were dramatically intertwined: the ballo.
Anticipating Robert Wilson, Meredith
Monk, and Martha Clarke by over four
hundred years, this dance-theater genre
may have a rightful claim to the status
of Grandaddy to Post-Modern MusicTheater. In fact, the intrinsic interlacing
19

competition fostered by various weddings occurring in 1607-8 among the


Northern Italian nobility, which similarly involved multiple productions.
These events may have been influenced
by changes that were occurring in these
forms during the time of Catherine de
Medici. A cultural intercourse between
Italy and France was renewed by the
marriage of Catherine de Medici to
Henri Valois in 1533. Catherine had produced five complex fetes between 1564
and 1581, culminating in the Ballet
comique de la Reine, staged by Balthasar
de Beaujoyeulx (Baltazarini de Belgioioso), a transplanted Florentine.
The wedding celebrations in 1608,
each involving a variety of lavish entertainments, were demonstrations of what
social historians refer to as conspicuous
consumption, in which wealth is converted to status via enormous spectacle.
From our presentThe court patron
day viewpoint it is
difficult
to conwas likely to be
ceive of an event,
honored in the
prepared
for
sung text, but he
months in advance,
involving a colalso might aplaborative effort of
pear onstage as
this scale, to be
part of a dance.
performed only
once.
Likewise, the
In order to
audience would
understand this
be participants.
spectacle, we need
to abandon preconceptions we carry about the various roles
involved. For instance, it was not uncommon for a composer to be a consummate singer, poet and dancer. The
concepts of performer and audience
are also misted in a landscape of shifting
functions. Curt Sachs, in Our Musical
Heritage, writes of a cleavage between
active and passive artistic expression occurring in the 17th century performer
and public,1 in which spectacles were

tailored to the particular talents and


predilections of the attendees. The court
patron was likely to be honored in the
sung text, but he also might appear
onstage as part of a dance. Likewise, the
audience would be participants. Those
attending Monteverdis Il ballo delle ingrate were swept into the opening proceedings, dancing socially in what we
might associate with a ballroom setting, although the dances were perhaps
more prescribed. At a certain point, a
startling noise reverberated through the
hall, and attention was drawn to the
gates of hell, signifying the start of the
composed ballo.
The subject for Il ballo delle ingrate is a strange one for a wedding. Cupid implores his mother Venus to ask
Pluto to bring forth from hell a band of
women who were ungrateful to the men
who courted them, and unresponsive to
Cupids arrows. After castigating these
women, Pluto also addresses the ladies
of the court in attendance, and warns
them not to succumb to the fate of the
ingrates.
The only surviving score was
created for the re-staging of the ballo in
Vienna in 1628, and published in Monteverdis eighth book of madrigals
(1638), Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi.
In a preface to the score, the composer
describes the order of events. This descriptive page informs us of several key
aspects of the form of the ballo. Amidst
the confusing multiple allusions to the
beginning of the ballo, and the reference at the end to any instrumental
piece at the curtains rise, we sense an
emphasis, for Monteverdi, on beginnings, which is born out by his dramatic
use of the convention of prologues in
his operas.
First there is a scene in which the
setting represents a mouth of hell
with four paths on each side, which
are to emit flames and from which

Quoted in Paul Nettle, The Story of Dance Music


(New York: Greenwood Press,1969) 160

20

the Souls of the Ungrateful Women


enter two by two with pitiful gestures to the music of the entre that
shall be the beginning of the ballo.
This music is to be repeated by the
instrumentalists as many times as
necessary until the dancers are in
place in the middle of the space in
which the ballo is to begin. Pluto
stands in the middle, leading them
with slow paces, then he withdraws
a bit and when the entre is over
they begin the ballo. Afterward
Pluto, stopping it in midcourse, addresses the Princess and ladies who
are present in the fashion described
in the text. The costume of the Ungrateful Souls is to be of ashen
color and adorned with imitation
tears. When the ballo is finished,
they return to hell in the same way
they left it and to the same sad music. One of them is to remain on
stage at the end, singing the lament
as written, then she enters hell. At
the raising of the curtain any instrumental piece desired is to be
played.2

dance. The dancers, constrained to the


patterns of the specific dance forms,
were also required to project an expressive aspect contributing to the dramatic
progress of the narrative. It may be impossible to ascertain how much of an
expressive range was achieved in the
movement for the ballo. A more expressive movement aesthetic is thought to
have developed in the ensuing generations, and particularly through the work
of Lully, who gave specific characters
idiosyncratic movements.
In the 1680s three types of
movement in theatrical dance were
identified, which we may consider regarding Monteverdis time as well: steps,
figures and expressions.3 The first,
steps, consists of turning, springing,
rising, and other movements apparent in
treatises like Thoinot Arbeaus classic
1589 text, Orchesography. Figures concerns the spatial patterns of dances such
as those comprising the suite. Each
dance mapped a particular pattern
across the floor, involving curved or
straight lines, chasing or fleeing, and
various geometric designs, most of
which were symmetrical. The third category, expressions, entails the dramatic
interpretation of
character; the move- We know that
ments and gestures Monteverdi was
of drunks, wrestlers,
boatmen, and so concerned with the
forth. But might emotionally
there have been a expressive nature
fourth species, the
emotionally expres- of movement in his
sive, in which dra- work, from letters
matic impulse is ex- regarding his
pressed through
opera La finta
movement?
Although ac- pazza Licori.
counts of Il b a l l o
delle ingrate do not give much description of the dance, we know that Mon-

The question of multiple beginnings is settled by a look at the score, in


which stage directions in the music detail how the ballo is interwoven. The
singing that occurs between Venus, Love
and Pluto is all leading to the main
event, which is the emergence of the Ingrates. When they do enter, we are given
a dance suite. This is the centerpiece of
the work, and the suite is the distinguishing feature of the ballo genre.
Another pertinent aspect of the
preface is the emotional description of
the women, who enter with pitiful gestures. One wonders how the dancers interpreted this direction. An image of
Isadora Duncan comes to mind, a modern dance pioneer who also looked to
the ancients for her themes. At issue is
the sense of form as it applied to the
2

Claudio Monteverdi, Madrigals, Book VIII (Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi), ed. G.F. Malipiero (New
York: Dover, 1991) xvii-xviii

Ken Pierce, Jennifer Thorp, The Dances in Lullys


Perse, Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music X,1
(2006) 2

21

one who lingers behind to sing of her


misfortune. Returning to the opening
theme lends unity to the suite.

teverdi was concerned with the emotionally expressive nature of movement in


his work, from letters regarding his opera (now lost), La finta pazza Licori
(1627). In one of these he stresses the
importance of finding the proper
woman to play the role of the protagonist, Licori; someone with lively gestures and clearly distinguished passions so that when war is spoken of,
war must be mimed, when peace, then
peace, when death, then death4 A picture emerges of a heightened style of
movement which is used to enhance the
meaning of the text. The placement of
the dance at the dramatic high point of
Monteverdis Ballo delle ingrate indicates that the dance was intended to
move the narrative forward, particularly
in the appearance of the dancers with
pitiful gestures.
The dancers would have found
musical support in the descending tetrachord, emblematic of lament, which
pervades the entrata section. This section rhythmically resembles a Spanish
Pavanne, as described in Orchesography
(see illustration).
The overall form of the suite consists of six related parts, beginning with
the Pavanne, which was commonly used
as a stately promenade to introduce the
nobility. The effect of this promenade
was enhanced by the fact that it was performed by the duke and the princebridegroom with six knights and eight
leading ladies of the city as noble as they
were fair and graceful in dancing. 5 The
suite takes us on a journey of contrasting tempi and rhythms; an Allemande,
Branle Gay, Gigue and Galliard. The
opening Pavanne then returns as the
women are led back by their male partners into the fires of hell, except for the

Thoinot Arbeau, Orchesography (1589)

The calling forth of the Ingrates,


and the ensuing dance, is followed by (or
interspersed with) solos from Pluto, and,
finally, a madrigalesque monody sung
by the lingering Ingrata, who, in her final moments, is joined by a chorus of
distant Ingrates and no basso continuo.
Instrumental ritornelli, sinfonie, and
suite intermingle with as many vocal
forms and dance. The beauty of Il ballo
delle ingrate is in its ability to contain,
within its forty-five minutes, multiple
dialogues between these various forms,
all of which come to balance on a simple
moralistic narrative. Within this sphere,
the dance seems to live on its own, unrelated musically to the surrounding material, and representing the women, who
are also alone in a place submerged be-

Claudio Monteverdi, (to Alessandro Striggio, May


7, 1627) in The Musicians World, ed. Hans Gal
(New York: Arco, 1966) 20
5
Frederico Follino, in Pirrotta, Music and Culture in
Italy from the Middle Ages to the Baroque (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984) 293

22

yond words. The extra-literal role of


dance had already been prescribed in
early operas such as Jacopo Peris Dafne
of 1598, and Monteverdis Orfeo of 1607,
each of which
ended with
The sensationalism
rhythmically
of the event lay
intense dances
as much in the
that
stood
outside
of the
castigation of the
narrative. This
women of Matua,
tradition has,
as in the fact of such a
for the most
part,
persisted
moral slap on the nose
through time.
occurring in celebraIf
artistic
Darwinism is
tion of a marriage
at work here,
the absence of song in ballet, and the
lack of movement in theater, is a conscious reckoning with the fact that dance
stops the narrative flow. Although there
may be times when this is desired, it is
only recognized as a valuable asset when
a distance is maintained between the two
irreconcilable yet codependent forces,
reason and release from reason; the articulate voice and the expressive body.
As Richard Albright has remarked, the
trick of opera is the displacement of
body into voice. 6
It is in the ballo that the potential
of dance as an elemental force in the
dramatic through line was most in evidence, partly because the narrative itself
was not yet of prime importance. Rinuccinis libretto for Il ballo delle ingrate
fulfills its purpose, but is not remarkable. Movement, poetry, and music were
all in the service of spectacle, and were
validated by their contribution to grand
effect. The scenography of Il ballo delle
ingrate was nearly a repeat of the previous years Orfeo, even sharing the character of Pluto. That the effect of the
spectacle was of primary impact is ap-

parent in a contemporary description of


the scenery, costume, and even the
womens hair, which was

part cut short and part spread


around with wondrous art, seemingly destroyed or burned; and although it was covered with ash and
smoke, a certain splendor, from
which one could well recognize that
at another time they were blondest
of blondes and their faces, showing signs of former beauty, were
changed and palled in such a way
that they brought terror and compassion together on looking upon
them. 7

The sensationalism of the event


lay as much in the castigation of the
women of Mantua (and in the later production, Vienna) as in the fact of such a
moral slap on the nose occurring in
celebration of a marriage. Bonnie
Gordon, a present-day writer, imagines
the scene from the point of view of the
new bride.
Margherita of Savoy, aged eighteen,
attended the production of LArianna
during the spectacles written to
honor her wedding to Francesco
Gonzaga in 1608. These spectacles
staged a stream of violated, punished
women, including a ballet in which
her groom dressed as one of a group
of women eternally condemned to
the smoky infernos of the underworld. In that role, he danced in and
out of the gaping mouth of hell
while Mantuans and visiting dignitaries from all over Europe gazed
upon his young bride.8

The word spectacle applies to


Broadway musicals of recent decades. In
the field of musical theater the narrative, or book has always incorporated
Follino, in Carter, 81
Bonnie Gordon, Monteverdi's Unruly Women:The
Power of Song in Early Modern Italy (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, January 2005) 3

Richard Albright, Golden Calves: The Role of


Dance in Opera, from the Proceedings of SOUND
MOVES: An International Conference on Music and
Dance (London: Roehampton University, 2005) 5

23

dance. In fact, musical theater may be


said to have an evolutionary history
similar to what we find in the early Baroque, especially in the culling of various forms of spectacle (vaudeville,
medicine show, burlesque), which are
gradually infused with narrative until
they find a new genre. However, Broadway dance is not inherently expressive,
but tends to conform to a generic style
with only minor reflection of the dramatic/emotional context.
In recent years modern dance
choreographers such as Trisha Brown
and Doug Varone are increasingly involved in operatic productions. The use
of movement in theater also achieved
new status via the avant-garde performance art movement, which fostered
Meredith Monk and Robert Wilson,
among many others. Wilson, known for
his highly stylized Butoh-esque use of
movement in drama, recently directed
Lohengrin at the Metropolitan Opera
House. He has said that he wishes to
create a feast for the eyes and ears, so
you wont have to think. Everything is
before you.9 He might well consider
Monteverdi, who, in another letter regarding La finta pazza Licori, wrote,
There will be a dance for every act, all
different and fantastic.10 Composers
and choreographers take note. Wilson,
Monk, and Clarke have shown that
there is a receptive public for a new
genre. The gates to this new music
theater of song, in which dance plays an
organic, dramatically expressive role,
have been standing open since Monteverdi.

Bibliography
Albright, Richard, Golden Calves: The Role
of Dance in Opera, from the Proceedings of
SOUND MOVES: An International Conference on Music and Dance (London: Roehampton Univer-sity, 2005)
http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/soundmoves/S
oundMovesConference2005_
Arnold, Denis, Monteverdi, rev. T. Carter
(London:J.M. Dent & Sons, 1990)
The Monteverdi Companion, eds Denis Arnold
and Nigel Fortune (New York: W.W. Norton,
1968, Au, Susan, Ballet and Modern Dance
(New York: Thames and Hudson, 1988)
Arbeau, Thoinot, Orchesography, trans.
Mary Stewart Evans (New York: Dover, 1967)
Carter, Tim, Monteverdis Musical Theatre
(New Haven and London: Yale University
Press, 2002)
Chafe, Eric, Monteverdis Tonal Language
(New York: Schirmer, 1992)
Cohen, Selma Jeanne, Dance as a Theatre
Art: Source Readings in Dance History from
1581 to the Present (Princeton: Dance Horizons, 1974)
Fenlon, Ian and Carter, Tim (eds), Con che
soavit: Studies in Italian Opera, Song, and
Dance, 1580-1740, (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1995)
Gal, Hans, ed. The Musicians World (New
York: Arco, 1966)
Gordon, Bonnie, Monteverdi's Unruly Women: The Power of Song in Early Modern
I t a l y(Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2005)
Horst, Louis, Pre-Classic Dance Forms
(Princeton: Dance Horizons, 1987)
Kirstein, Lincoln, Dance: A Short History of
Classic Theatrical Dancing (Princeton:
Dance Horizons, 1987)

Robert Wilson. Interview with Stan Schwartz in


Bamezine, April, 2006
https://bam.org/events/06PEER/06PEER_ezine.aspx
10
Gal, 11

Sachs, Curt, Our Musical Heritage,


(Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1965)

24

Pirrotta, Nino, Music and Culture in Italy


from the Middle Ages to the Baroque: A
Collection of Essays (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1984)
Pierce, Ken and Thorp, Jennifer, The
Dances in Lullys Perse, Journal of Seventeenth- Century Music X,1 (2006)
Redlich, Hans Claudio Monteverdi: Life and
Works, trans. Kathleen Dale (Westport:
Greenwood Press, 1952)
Schrade, Leo, Monteverdi: Creator of Modern Music (New York: Da Capo Press, 1979)
Monteverdi, Claudio, Madrigals, Book VIII
(Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi), ed. G.F.
Malipiero (New York: Dover, 1991)
Nettle, Paul, The Story of Dance Music (New
York: Greenwood Press, 1969)
Pirrotta, Nino, and Povoledo, Elena, Music
and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi,
trans. Karen Eales (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1975)

Andy Teirstein is a composer and Associate Arts Professor in the Department


of Dance at New York University
www.andyteirstein.com

25

rect effect upon the course of the work.


Quite recently I have been delving into
an intriguing new way to achieve this
integration, that of using interactive
computer software to create a dance
score that can only be activated or created through movement. Because the
dance movement is the direct cause of
the sound, and the way in which the
dancer chooses to move directly alters
the music composition, and the way the
music sounds then feeds back to effect
the way in which the dancer subsequently chooses to move (that is, the
dancer is playing an instrument), in a
sense the dance literally is the music,
and the music is inseparable from the
movement. Therefore one art is not
more important than the other, and one
is not independent from the other indeed, each one becomes the other.
Achieving this idealized integration through the use of computers involves two separate but equally integrated and referential efforts. One is to
learn how to program and use the software packages involved, and the other is
to learn to conceptualize such work.
Learning to use computer software and
sensor technology is interesting in itself,
yet using such stuff in a dance for the
mere sake of it can lead to artistic confusion. Therefore, conceiving of a valid
reason why to use such technology in
the service of an artistic vision is an
equally important component of interactive composition. Yet in order to envision such a piece, one has to have some
notion of what the technology can do.
Deeper knowledge of what the technology can do then further informs and
possibly changes the concept of the
piece. The beginner at this art form has
to jump onto this wheel somewhere, and
then ride it around a few times until the
skills of conception and execution come
together to produce a work of interactive
art.
I have seen a couple of works that
have achieved a high degree of integration, notably a piece entitled Seine hohle

TECHNOLOGY

Using Interactive
Computer Applications
to Integrate the Arts
and the Artists
in Music and Dance
By John Toenjes
One of my interests as a musician
in dance is in blurring the division between
musician and dancer. This desire is an
expression of an aesthetic that seeks to
integrate the art forms of music and
dance as tightly
as possible into
One of my interests
one whole, which
is to integrate
means that permusic and dance
formers cannot
be accurately
into one whole
identified as eiwhich means that
ther musician or
performers can not
dancer, but they
are performing
be identified as
both functions at
either musician or
the same time, or
at least both
dancer, but are
functions at difperforming both
ferent times in
functions
the same dance.
On a compositional level, this means that the structure of the music and its sonic expression is integral to the course of the choreography, and vice-versa. In several of
my collaborations I have either reversed
roles and danced while the dancer
plays music, or made music by stomping
on amplified boxes while appearing as
equal partner with the dancers onstage. I
have experimented with looping structures of music and choreography,
wherein decisions made about the timing and number of those loops has a di26

Form by choreographer Robert


and rock n roll tunes5). The interactive
Wechsler and composer Joseph Butch
section was conceived with the dual goal
Rovan1. The movement vocabulary is
of tightly welding the sound score to the
directly tied to the specific needs of makmovement, and of hinting at one of the
ing the music sound, expressing a
main subtexts of the choreography. This
movement style that was formed partly
subtext was an exploration of Carl
to allow the music to sound
Jungs ideas of the subconcorrectly. At the same time,
scious mind. By programthe sonic feedback, which can I have been delving
ming an interactive system
change from performance to
wherein the dancers moveperformance, either con- into an intriguing new
ments would cause the sound
strains the dancers to move way to achieve this
to happen, thereby mitigating
in specific ways, or inspires a integration that of
some of the conscious control
freedom of movement that
that I, as performing musielevates the dancers experi- using interactive
cian, would have over the
ence to a new height of ex- computer software to
course of the score, I hoped
pression. Other practitioners create a dance score
that I could suggest the inof interactive dance, such as
fluence of the subconscious
Mark Coniglio of Troika that can only be
in subverting our conscious
Ranch,2 take an approach activated or created
control of our environment.
wherein sometimes the mu- through movement.
Because the dancers would be
sic and dance are tightly
in some way influencing the
woven together, where the
direction of the sound to
movement of a dancers elwhich they would subsebow might influence, say, the playback
quently be emotionally responding to,
speed of the sound, and therefore the
perhaps a tiny bit of their subconscious
feel of the dancers movement in relawould become active in directing the
tion to the sound, and at other times
flow of the piece. Since this was one of
they are more independent one from
my first forays into interactive technolanother, the music and movement free
ogy, my application of it was imperfect,
to coexist in time without being dependand left much room for improvement.
ent upon each other for their method of
But I describe it here in some detail, to
performance.3
explain how such technology might be
In February 2006 I premiered a
integrated into the conception and creawork, entitled Value Intensity, with chotion of dance scores, in order at least to
4
reographer Todd Williams, that incoradd another tool to the dance composiporated interactive computer technology
tion palette.
into one section of the dance (the other
The computer setup for this part
sections consisted of live vocal loops,
of the dance score used an Apple iSight
video camera connected to a PowerBook computer pointed at the stage
from the lighting booth, which commu1
nicated with a second laptop computer
Excerpts can be seen at www.palindrome.de
2
www.troikaranch.org
onstage (which I also used to record and
3
More about this can be found in my paper Commanipulate my live vocal loops) via the
posing for Interactive Dance: Paradigms for Percepbuilt-in Airport wireless network. This
tion which you can download as part of the proceedings of Sound Moves: An International Conference on Music and Dance, at
www.roehampton.ac.uk/soundmoves
4
92nd St. Y/Harkness Dance Festival, New York,
February 2006

Vocal loops were created with the use of Ableton


Live software (www.ableton.com), and the rock music was played by me on keyboard, Tigger Benford,
drums, and David Moltz, guitar.

27

camera/computer setup tracked the mothis case, the randomness is used to


tion of the dancers with a software comsimilar purpose, yet with somewhat disponent known as Jitter,6 and output the
similar effect in mind. My aim was to
dancers positions onstage as a stream of
inspire a different reaction in the dancnumbers ( x y coordinates) over the
ers each night because of the nature of
wireless network. Over the video coming
the sound they were hearing, rather than
into this motion-tracking computer, I
merely allowing the two arts, music and
superimposed a drawing made by one of
dance, to coexist at the same time in the
Jungs case studies. Whenever the dancsame place. Also the frequency of events
ers video image would intersect with
was carefully structured to influence the
that drawing, the onstage music comdancers to move more energetically as
puter, running Max/MSP softthe piece was moving
ware, would react by triggering
into the final climactic
sound derived from a recordsection, in an attempt
ing of session of Jungian word The programming of the
to marry choreoassociation, to which the danc- Max patch did allow the
graphic and musical
ers would improvise.
structural goals.
music go into a realm not
The dancers moveWell, this is the
ments caused a pair of words to under my direct conscious
way Id designed it,
be picked at random from a list control. Thus the score was
anyway. I have learned
of 100 such pairs. The order of different every night, and
through talking with
the word pairs was dependent
other interactive dance
upon which side of the stage the dancers changing
composers that it is
the intersection occurred. improvisation imparted a
good practice to have a
These word pairs were then fresh perspective to each
back-up plan when replayed in one of several ranlying on computer indom speed/direction combina- performance.
teractivity to create
tions, and subsequently run
theater. In this case,
through a flanging echo VST
the unforeseen diffiplug-in processor, which was randomly
culty was in the lack of time in the theachanging its own parameter settings inter needed to properly control the lightdependent of any other process. This was
ing. This type of motion tracking deall happening within the confines of a
pends a lot on the lighting for its accupredetermined timeline (which is a Max
racy and I had no practical way to run
object) that played specific words withback and forth between computers durout filtering, as cues to keep the dancers
ing rehearsals to adjust my patch to the
on track within the overall timing of the
lighting. It turns out that such an intedance. As this section of the dance prograted system of light, motion, music,
gressed, the dancers moved more and
and computers needs a certain amount
more, and triggered more and more
of time and number of people devoted to
sounds. Also, the patch opened up to
making the adjustments necessary to
accept more triggering, thereby increascoordinate all these pieces to make it
ing the frequency of the word sounds,
work flawlessly. So as my backup plan, I
climaxing in intensity to segue into the
programmed a motion-tracking emulafinal rock n roll anthem.
tor to simulate the movement of the
An aesthetic incorporating randancers on stage. This simulator was
domness is one pioneered by John Cage
then fed into the main Max patch to
in his work with Merce Cunningham. In
cause the sounds to trigger as if the
dancers were moving more and more as
6
the dance progressed. My goal of inteYou can download trial versions of Max/MSP and
grating the movement into the dance
Jitter at www.cycling74.com
28

score was frustrated by my lack of experience and lack of sufficient assistance


and time to experiment in the theater.
However, the programming of the Max
patch did allow the music go into a
realm not under my direct conscious
control. Thus the score was different
every night, and the dancers changing
improvisations to the different word
sounds they heard, imparted a fresh perspective to each performance.
As I learn more, I am becoming
convinced that the aforementioned difficulties can be worked out, and interactive computer technologies can be utilized in a theater with less and less time
needed for experimentation and set up.
My current focus in
the effort to master
the software and
Motion tracking
hardware is twois just around the
fold: to make setcorner for use by
up times short
enough for the avthe average
erage performer or
computer-savvy
dance company to
musician, and its
manage in a practical theatrical venuse in interactive
ture, and to hone
performance
the lower-cost mopromises to open
tion tracking technologies, within
up exciting new
economic reach of
areas of exploranearly all dancers
tion for music for
and musicians, to
the point where
dance.
they are dependable and useful.
Therefore I am actively investigating
problems and solutions in this area, with
a goal of disseminating and demonstrating this as a reality in my works. My
current work with St. Louis dancer David
Marchant, entitled Leonardos Chimes,
takes a large step forward for me in this
area, as well as in the integration of
movement with music, as I wrote of in
the introductory paragraph. In its premiere workshop performance, we were
able to get the piece up and running
within 15 minutes during intermission,

through consolidation of wiring and


hardware items into pre-connected,
compact road cases, and automated
software setup routines. Initial setup of
the lighting in the theater took several
hours, but that is not terribly unusual
even in a traditional dance.
Motion tracking is just around
the corner for use by the average computer-savvy musician, and its use in interactive performance promises to open
up exciting new areas of exploration for
music for dance. For example, Leonardos Chimes offers the challenge of
creating a score for seven areas of space
that are played by the dancer. This requires new compositional thinking, and
intense listening on the dancers part to
create a convincing and complete musical and choreographic journey. This environment also intensifies the sensitivity
of the composer to the actual sound
coming out of the speakers, as slight
variations in the timbral qualities have a
direct effect upon the inspiration a
dancer feels to move to the music. From
a showmanship point of view, I find that
audiences are also fascinated by this new
relationship of sound to movement, and
by the mystery of their correlation
through an invisible medium. Balancing
the amount of cause and effect programmed into the interactive system
(what David Marchant and I refer to as
the C-E ratio) is a fascinating area for
composer and choreographer to explore,
as it has a distinct and noticeable effect
on the audiences perception and reception of the work. Most exciting for me, is
the ability to create new, allencompassing instruments that require
large expressive movement as their virtuosic technique. This development
promises to foster a fully integrated
partnership between the movement and
sonic arts. New movement vocabularies
come out of the need for expressivity on
these new instruments, not necessarily
incorporating tendu and arabesque. I
find myself moving through Leonardos
Chimes seven areas in a very different
29

way than David does, to very different


compositional and expressive effect. The
instrument leads me to move in dramatic and communicative ways I had
never accessed before, and demands that
I improve my corporeal expressiveness.
In this way, not only are the arts of music and dance integrated in a theoretical
manner, but also musician and dancer
become one and the same artistand
this is my ultimate aesthetic goal.

John Toenjes, Assistant Professor and


Music Director of the Department of
Dance at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne, is a pianist, composer
and interactive media artist.
https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/jtoenjes/www/

30

decision was a catalyst for selfexamination that has been refreshing.

Five Perspectives on
Bringing Electronics into
Dance Class

Aesthetic Considerations
As musicians interpreting the
movement material presented in class
we react within a range of aesthetic responses. Essentially, we view the quality,
rhythm, mood, character, and phrasing
of a movement combination and bring
that to life through sound; which helps
to bring yet another dimension to the
movement. This is achieved by either:

Using a Laptop as an
Instrument in a Dance
Technique Class
By Robert Kaplan
Introduction
Dancers dancing to live music in
a technique class is a natural activity for
many of us. As musicians in dance we
provide music for people to dance to.
But what happens when you feel low on
ideas and creativity? After a certain
amount of time we all need to stimulate
our imagination and find new directions
whether by playing in different keys,
changing instruments, playing piano
and percussion
together, playing
in
different
In many ways
styles, bringing
introducing the
in new music
laptop into my
the list goes on.
Ive noarray of
ticed times when
instruments for
dancers would
respond differclass has reduced
ently to drums
my experience level
over piano; or
to that of a
when two or
more musicians
beginner, which is
playing together
very refreshing.
change the nature of the class. I
recently decided to try something totally
different.
Noticing the students response to
drums over piano and my own personal
need to bring something new to my approach, I decided to expand my range of
sounds when playing class by using a
laptop computer as an instrument. This

1. Playing pre-composed pieces,


from show tunes to classical repertoire etc.
2 . Providing an overall rhythmic
groove or atmospheric wash.
3. Incorporating the nuances of the
rhythm, phrasing, and character
of the movement into an improvised piece for that combination.
The third area has been my aesthetic
approach to playing for both ballet and
modern, although I have used all three
approaches in class at different times.
But its the third orientation that puts
me in direct relationship with the material on a musical/kinesthetic level. My
decision to use a laptop as an instrument
in class automatically puts me at a disadvantage because I am no longer able
to watch the teachers demonstration
with my full attention, nor am I able to
watch the dancers as closely during the
combination.
In many ways introducing the
laptop into my array of instruments for
class has reduced my experience level to
that of a beginner, which is very refreshing. While the teacher is demonstrating
the material I find myself searching for
sounds and trying to get everything in
place before the count-in. Once the
combination starts Im using my right
hand on the computer mouse, looking at
the computer screen, watching the
dancers, and simultaneously playing piano and/or percussion. While learning to
31

multi-task is valuable, my attention to


the nuances of the combination is replaced by a more general musical approach.
Early in the exploration process I
found myself getting carried away by all
the sounds and textural possibilities. The
effect was like having a world-beat,
rock/jazz fusion band in class. While this
was fun I wondered how effective it was
from the teachers and the dancers perspectives. The teachers reaction was that
it was fine to have that type of sound
every now and then; the dancers reactions were mixed, they either loved it or
hated it, without much middle ground.
Personally I feel that the wall of
sound approach tends to subconsciously
turn off the dancers attention to detail
in their dancing.
I even discussed it
While it is fun to
move to a big
with the class, tellsound environing them that I was
ment, perhaps
trying new things
this is best done
after the dancers
and learning new
have learned the
software during
material.
It
their technique
should be used
sparingly.
class warning
Of course,
them in advance of
intimately tied to
the possibility that
all of this are the
preferences and
the music may not
expectations of
work at all.
the teacher. How
do they want the
music relating to their movement? People react differently to music. Ive had
some ballet teachers who prefer only piano in specific musical styles, while others are open to percussion and even to
the computer. Some teachers prefer a
clean, simple approach to music for
their classes, while others enjoy a wall of
sound. Even more basic than musical
style or instrumentation is rhythm.
Some teachers consciously avoid threes
because of the circular, laid-back quality,
in preference of twos, which feel more
direct, driving, and faster.

So an important consideration before you drag a computer rig into class


is to discuss it with the teacher. I even
discussed it with the class, telling them
that I was trying new things and learning new software during their technique
class, warning them in advance of the
possibility that the music may not work
at all with a given combination. Even
though things never got to this dismal
point, setting the stage in this manner
gave me the freedom to fail.
Technical Issues
Should you be interested in using a
computer in class there are some technical concerns to consider:
1. How portable is your electronic
rig?
2. How much time is there for setup and breakdown before and after class?
3 . What is the proximity of the
sound system (mixer, amplifier,
and speakers) in relation to the
live instruments you may be using in addition to the computer?
4. Will there be a need to amplify
the acoustic instruments?
5. How important is it to the teacher
for their comments to be heard
over the music?
6 . What software programs lend
themselves to this type of music
making?
Okay, so how portable is your electronic rig? The basic system fits in a
computer bag or a small knapsack and
consists of a laptop computer and an
audio cable to connect to the amplification system. The amount of set-up and
breakdown time is contingent upon
where the sound system is in the room.
The ideal situation is one in which the
amplifier and mixer, or patch-bay
which lets you easily patch into the
sound system are right next to the piano, allowing you to make adjustments
in volume while playing. This might re32

quire an additional small mixer that can


sit directly on the piano, next to the laptop.
Next is the consideration of where
the speakers are placed in the space. Any
pianist knows that you only sound as
good as the instrument you play on. In
terms of electronics a similar thing is
true; a good amplifier and speaker system can make or break your attempts at
using electronics in class. Say youve got
a great sounding system that has four
speakers spread out around the room. If
the piano and drums are set too far from
the speakers, the sound of the live instruments will not synchronize with the
sound of the amplified instruments.
Also, in order to hear the amplification
loud enough to play along with, the volume has to be cranked pretty high. This
then makes it too difficult for the
teachers voice to be heard. Not to mention that if a teacher is counting from
across the room there might be an additional delay in their voice by the time it
gets to you, adding further to the confusion. Sure, there are ways to remedy this
situation with the addition of a monitor
speaker pointed directly at the musician,
and adding microphones to the piano
and/or drums so they are mixed with the
sound from the computer. But this all
takes more time to set up.
The easiest scenario is to have a
small amplifier right next to the piano.
The sounds from the computer should
come from the same vicinity as the piano or live drums, so it sounds like a
unified ensemble rather than separate
entities. While additional microphones
may still be placed on the acoustic instruments, at least all the sound will be
coming from the same area, which helps
keep the dancers general orientation to
that of a technique class, rather than a
surround-sound theater.
Perhaps most importantly is to find a
software program that lends itself to live
performance. Ive gravitated to a program called Ableton Live , which is a
real-time music production program for

Mac operating systems or Windows. At


the time of this writing I was using version 4, although version 5 is now available which includes, among other
things, much-improved browsing features. Live allows you to access multiple
loop libraries as well as MIDI material.
The basic musical building blocks of
Live are called clips. A clip is a piece of
musical material: a melody, a drum pattern, a bass line or a complete song. You
could record and alter clips, or create
larger musical structures from them1.
The thing that I like most about this
program is its ability to run in real time
while you are either moving clips
around, recording
new ones, editing,
creating an ar- The sounds from
rangement, adjust- the computer
ing automation envelopes The list should come from
continues. You can the same vicinity
change clips indi- as the piano or
vidually
or
in
groups, at one beat, live drums, so it
half beat, one meas- sounds like a
ure intervals, or unified ensemble
whenever you desire.
Each vertical rather than sepacolumn, or track, can rate entities.
play only one clip at
a time. So it makes sense to put a set of
clips that are supposed to be played alternatively in the same columns: parts of
a song, variations of a drum loop, etc.
The horizontal rows are called scenes. To
launch every clip in a row (scene) simultaneously, click on its associated Scene
Launch button, located on the rightmost
column, which represents the Master
track.2
Ableton Live accesses loops from any
loop library on your hard drives. Libraries that I use include those that come
with Live, GarageBand libraries (including various Jam Pack additions), Apple
Soundtrack libraries, and MOTU (Mark
1
2

33

Ableton Live, Version 4, Reference Manual, p. 13


Ableton Live, Version 4, Reference Manual , p. 59

of the Unicorn) libraries that come with


Digital Performer. There are well over
6,000 loops in these combined libraries.
Ableton Live enables you to turn
these cumbersome loop libraries into an
instrument that you can actually play
with precision and control. The main
challenge is figuring how to organize
your pallet, or Live Set, to enable quick
changes of meter and instrumentation.

tute to taking the time to browse


through your loop libraries creating a
new, select group of sounds that can be
quickly and easily accessed. Finding
ways to organize them into instrumental
and/or timbral groupings is another puzzle. And finally, organizing loops in
categories of duple meters, triple meters,
and irregular meters, like 5s and 7s adds
even greater options to your pallet. Remember the key to making this work is
being able to change quickly between
combinations and within a combination.

Practical Concerns
Perhaps the first order of business
is to talk with the instructor to see if
they are open to
the idea. It lends
itself to several
Ive discovered
types of teaching
there is no
styles: from pulsesubstitute to
oriented extended
warm-ups, atmostaking the time to
pheric textures and
browse through
arrhythmic enviyour loop librarronments, to any
metric combinies creating a
ation that is given
new, select group
with enough countof sounds that can
in to set a taptempo. Also, a disbe quickly and
cussion of starting
easily accessed.
and stopping combinations is helpful.
Without this quickly becoming a
technical rehash of the Live reference
manual, lets try to keep things as general as possible. The concepts can then
be applied to any other software/hardware you might find yourself
using. What are some practical concerns
that might be universally applied to any
approach to using computer technology
in a dance class?

Creating Pallets
Begin by creating a new pallet, or
set, that becomes your master clip location. As you browse through your loop
libraries, bring in only the ones you are
drawn to. The vast majority of rhythmic
loops in commercially available loop libraries are in common time, in four-beat
phrases. While there are scattered triple
meters, some compound meters, and a
few odd meters of 5 or 7, the only way to
get any good grooves going in these odd
meters it to fish them out of the library
pool, and edit them to 5 or 7-beat loops.
This type of editing in Ableton Live is so
quick and easy that, if necessary, it can
be done during a combination in class
without missing a beat.
Remember that this new set will
become your collection area of edited
clips, your goal is to build an assortment
of rhythmic, percussion grooves in timbral order, that can be navigated vertically and horizontally on the computer
screen to allow you to play in any meter
without stopping. All of your meters will
then be contained in this one set, which
makes this Loop Central of sorts, and it
will be huge and cumbersome to work
in. Once completed you could always do
a SAVE AS a specific work session and
make adjustments to fit specific needs,
without losing your original collection.
All you would do is click on the topmost
scene, which places your cursor in that
scene, then go up to the Insert menu at
the top of the screen and click INSERT

Organizing Your Material in Ableton


Live
Finding ways to organize your
material is tricky, especially as loop libraries tend to be huge, and are often
stored on different drives. While I didnt
do this before bringing the laptop into
class, Ive discovered there is no substi34

SCENE. Do this at least ten times to give


your some room to work. You will copy
clips from your collection below and
paste them into this top work area. One
final thought, the location of the new
SAVE AS set should be in the same
folder as the original set.
Why, you might be wondering,
use this one set as a home for all of your
different metric clips? Its a HUGE file!
The main reason is that it enables you to
change quickly from a duple meter to a
triple meter, or any meter, even to combine meters, all within the same set.

the edited clip is your access to that edited sound. If you want to have quick
and easy access to your clips in odd meters, you have to access them as clips
from the set they were created in.
One more
technical observation related to It is also possible to
Live . Ive found play clips in different
that when building loops in odd meters simultanemeters
a n d ously. Polymeters
bringing loops can be easily and
into Live as clips,
the time signa- gradually explored
ture needs to be to add unexpected
either 4/4 or 8/4. syncopation to a
Even if Im ultimately going to combination.
be making the
clip a 7-beat loop, if you audition the
loop and drag it into the set at 7/4, the
tempo will not be in sync with the metronome. But if you bring it in at 4/4 or
8/4, everything lines up just right. The
markers for 8/4 make it easier to see
where to end the loop when creating 7beat loops.

Developing Loops in Odd Meters


Samples, or loops, and MIDI files
are searched and imported from disk using Lives on-board Browsers, which can
be pointed to any folder location on the
computer. Since there are relatively few
loops in odd meters, the strategy for
building this collection of clips is to fish
for loops that are 8-beat phrases, then
cut them down. There are literally thousands of great percussion grooves in
these libraries. 8-beat phrases can easily
be cut down to 7-beats. Once all your 7beat clips are made, you can make copies of them and cut them down into 5beat clips, or 3-beat clips. They can also
be organized and used as 4 or 8-beat cycles, as they were intended.
When you drag a loop from a library into the set it becomes a clip and
Live automatically creates a reference to
it (essentially linking that clip to the actual sound file, wherever it resides). It is
advisable to choose the SAVE SET SELFCONTAINED command from the FILE
menu when saving your work. This prevents references to sound files spread all
over one or more hard drives, and keeps
everything you are using for that set together. Okay, so why keep all the edited
clips in one set? Although you may edit
a clip, the original sound file it was created from (which, since youve saved the
set self-contained, it now resides in the
sets Sounds Folder), is still the original
unedited sample. In other words, only

Accessing Duple and Triple Meters


Easily
Let us return to the idea of a
sound pallet, or Live set in Ableton language. When I first began using the
program in class I found myself switching from one Live set to another as
combinations changed from duple meters to triple meters. This process of
changing files takes much too long and
is not practical. Each Live set consists of
tracks, vertical columns of sounds that
can be accessed individually, and scenes,
horizontal groups of sounds that can be
triggered to play together. An early organizational plan was to have several
tracks dedicated to DUPLE, and several
dedicated to TRIPLE. I found that by
having both metric categories in the
same set, I was able to choose loops in
the appropriate meter, change the
tempo and time signature, and be ready
35

before the combination began. My current set is organized with several horizontal scenes in meters of 3, several in 4,
several in 5, several in 7, and several
non-metered.
As long as scenes are homogenous only contain their own metric
type you can
access all of the
If the teacher and
clips in one scene
simultaneously.
musician remain
This works great
in relationship
when you want to
throughout the
create big textural contrasts all
class, the
within the same
non-human
meter. It is also
aspects of the
possible to play
clips in different
computer can be a
meters simultapositive addition
neously. Polyto the mix.
meters can be
easily and gradually explored to add unexpected syncopation to a combination. This is done by
slowly adding different metric groups
into a scene, or group of clips that are
playing like adding a duple clip into
an environment of triple clips. This is
best done gradually so the dancers are
not distracted by the combination of meters.

drums and piano in a 4/4 groove against


a simple drum loop in 5/4 with a kick
drum on beat one and snare hit on beat
three. The polymetric cycle creates rotating accents every 5 measures. Ive only
done this by playing piano and drum
together, over the 5/4-drum loop. I felt
that solo piano in 4/4 against the computers 5/4 drum loop would be too confusing; the live percussion was needed to
clarify the 4/4 motion and integrate the
syncopating accents of the computer
loop.

Tap-tempos
Whenever any type of sequencer
or external clock is used as an instrument in a dance technique class you
have to figure out how to quickly, and
gracefully, adjust tempo when either the
teachers count-in is too fast or too slow,
or if your initial tap-in tempo is not accurate. It is helpful if you are working
with a teacher who is comfortable providing accurate count-in preparations for
combinations. I found that I needed an
8-count preparation in order to use the
last 4-counts as a tap-tempo (Live averages the 4 taps to create the tempo).
There were times that I would begin
playing piano or drums and then do the
tap-tempo on the computer after the
combination had already started. This is
another area that needs practice and
open communication between the instructor and musician. There are problems though if the tempo of the movement is supposed to speed up or slow
down. This is more difficult to seamlessly render with the computer in an
improvisational setting.

Polyrhythms
Another discovery I made accidentally in class happened when the
teacher demonstrated something in a
moderate seven. Since the count was
slow enough, more like a half note, I
found a shaker loop in 4/4. This created a
duple feeling of half notes against my
live drumming in seven. So, duple ostinati that dont emphasize a strong 4-beat
cycle can be used to provide more drive
to irregular meters. Even a clear and
simple Half-Time drum set loop in 4/4
can be used while playing over it in 5/4,
using the quarter note as the common
pulse.
A similar thing can be done to
spice up a combination in 4/4. Play

Overdubbing
For combinations that are repeated over and over and over, Live lets
you to record an arrangement, which is
easily done by clicking the record button. The moment you begin activating
clips anything you do is recorded . You
could then either overdub more layers
on subsequent repeats of the combina36

tion, or just play another instrument


over the computer arrangement. I have
found that playing piano or drums over
the computers sound helps to tie the
music more directly into the nuances of
the combination. It also prevents the
computer loop from sounding repetitive.
In conclusion, the addition of a
laptop computer to a dance technique
class can bring many new metric, textural, timbral, and stylistic possibilities
into the class. The degree to which it is
used is wholly dependent upon the
teachers aesthetic, their ability to communicate with the musician, their willingness to try something different, and
the musicians dexterity in making quick
changes. If the teacher and musician
remain in relationship throughout the
class, the non-human aspects of the
computer can be a positive addition to
the mix.

Robert Kaplan, Professor/Music Director


at Arizona State University, is a composer who plays piano, guitar, and percussion. His book, "Rhythmic Training
for Dancers," is published by Human Kinetics, Inc. His website is:
http://www.sounddance.net/sdarts.html

You can hear examples of some of


the sounds described in this article
on the CD enclosed with this journal. (The CD list is found on the
last page.)

37

Four Decades of
Electronics in Class

an old Space Echo to do some looping


and other cool effects.
In the mid-80's Roland came out
with the SH202 (a more programmable
version of the better-known 303), which
had a sequencer and some pretty good
analog-type sounds. The trickiest part
was that it had no memory, so I'd have to
program it anew every time I changed
the sequencer in class. Fortunately most
of my accompanying at the time was for
my wife, Tandy Beal, who is very sensitive to the needs of the accompanist and
would use the time (generally a minute
or two for re-programming) to give crits
to the class. I also needed her tolerance/patience to set accurate tempos for
the sequencer, which I would then play
along with on my guitar or percussion.
Additionally I used a Lexicon Jamman
looper, which was a very useful way to
build up rhythmic and melodic ideas to
suggest a larger sonic environment.
Finally, in the early 90's I discovered the accompaniment device of my
dreams. The DrumKAT an amazingly
flexible and programmable device,
which I now use in all my classes. It has
a memory that allows over 30 kits, which
I have programmed to cover traditional
percussion sounds, marimbas, keyboards, basses, strings, etc. The only
drawback is that it is a complex device,
which has taken me many, many hours
of programming, and it requires an external device to house the sounds in
my case a Roland JV1080 which I have
maxed out with sound cards that include
world instruments and sound effects.
The flexibility to be able to step through
a number of different instruments (or
combine several in one kit) makes it perfect for the needs of a modern dance
class. If one is willing to put the time in
to program it, I highly recommend it.
You can play chords or single notes (up
to 128) on each pad and there are 10
pads so the possibilities are logarithmic.
It's velocity sensitive so that you can
change instrument sounds or timbre depending on how hard you hit a pad. It

By Jon Scoville
In the late 1970's, I purchased a
Buchla modular synthesizer, a formidable beast of a sound-making machine,
and way beyond the means of a parttime teacher and full-time accompanist.
But I had just written a book, Sound Designs, on the design and construction of
acoustic instruments and I was looking
to expand my sonic palette. So I took the
publisher's advance and bought into the
world of electronica. A world
rich with musical
The flexibility to be
possibilities but
able to step
fraught with the
through a number
perils of hums,
buzzes,
poor
of different
grounding, slow
instruments makes
response time
the DrumKAT
and electrical
curses.
perfect for the
At
the
needs of a modern
time I was acdance class if one
companying two
2-hour technique
is willing to put the
classes followed
time in to program
by a 3-hour comp/
it.
improv class and
the seven-hour
stint was as tiring on my ears as it was
on my body. So I lugged the Buchla into
the studio and used it to create slowly
modulating atmospheres for the creative
classes. It was a wonderful adjunct to the
work, but there were so many technical
hassles, along with the 80 lb weight of
the thing that I soon dropped it from my
armamentarium, and went back to using
an array of percussion instruments
many of which I had built specifically
for use in dance classes and my amplified acoustic guitar which I ran through

38

has room for 9 external triggers and


really outclasses anything that Roland
or Yamaha have done.
As to using a laptop, I can imagine the possibilities, but for me the
DrumKAT is so complete that I really
dont see the necessity. I also have some
aesthetic misgivings about using a laptop in class but I won't rule out the
possibility that at some point I may give
it a try in spite of my reluctance to turn
over so much control to a computer.
Over the years, however, Ive engaged in a long, aesthetic and pedagogical argument with myself, and occasionally with other accompanists, about the
virtues or not of bringing electronic
devices into the studio. I must admit to
straddling the fence on this issue for so
long that my pants may be about to rip.
On the plus side
are the incredible
The main problem
variety of sounds
is the inherent artiand
textures
ficiality of both
available, far beyond the reach of
computer-driven
a piano or a set of
rhythms and samdrums.
Also,
pled instruments.
looping devices
and other computer driven machines are unflagging in
their accuracy and tempo. For me, the
main problem is the inherent artificiality
of both computer-driven rhythms and
sampled instruments.
At a pedagogical level, one of our
functions in the studio is to encourage
musicality in dancers through how we
play, our choice of sounds, and the musical forms we employ. Musicality for
dancers (and of course for musicians) is
primarily about the quality of expressivity through phrasing the ability to play
with time and dynamics in sound or
movement choices. Technology-driven
music, whether it is canned on CDs, or
live in a dance class, is often rhythmically rigid and lacking in dynamic variety. In a club environment this can be a
big part of its charm its machine-like
urgency is reflective of our mechanistic

culture, which translates into a trance on


the dance floor. In the dance studio,
however, the danger in hearing instruments that are artificial, and rhythms
that dont breathe, is that the dancers
ear may lose its capacity to make qualitative choices, thus accelerating the decline of their capacity to listen actively.
If we nourish our dancers on the
McDonalds equivalent of music (unvarying dynamics, artificial sounds), they
wont develop a palette for all those sublime distinctions in picking, bowing,
blowing, pedaling, sticking, and fingering techniques which we spend so much
time mastering. With these subtle colors
at our disposal, we convey a more complex world of sound and time. But if
dancers, specifically modern and contemporary, are primarily exposed to
loud unvarying music particularly in
pop music with all its maxed out compression levels used to pump up the volume then we will, not surprisingly, end
up with so many visually (and often
sonically) LOUD dances.
But now that Ive gotten that
rant/grumble out of my system, heres
what I do to try to have it both ways
and resolve some of these contradictions
when using electronic devices in the
studio. If I use loops, which I feel are often a mixed blessing (great for rhythmic
drive but terrible for developmental
forms), I try to enter the loops in realtime, which gives some elasticity to the
rhythms. Or if using a groove box, I at
least engage the feel factor so that it
swings a little while playing live over it.
I also have the extreme good fortune of
working in class with a very resourceful
drummer, so that the sampled sounds,
triggered by my DrumKAT, are supplemented by real drums in real-time.
Ive been involved with electronics in music for four decades, and Im
quite cognizant that it is still an immature medium (for comparison imagine
the sound of the piano in the 1730s, some
years after Cristofori invented it). Still to
be resolved are the many problems of
39

timbral richness and responsiveness to


touch. In some areas, however, the standard of samples is of increasingly high
quality. Marimbas, vibes, and drum
sounds in particular are quite accurate. But Im
Analog, digital,
still reluctant to
orbital, microbial
use most string
or wind samples
if it makes
because of how
interesting sounds,
quickly they reIll use it hopeveal their digital
nature when held
fully with an ear
for longer than a
for phrasing and
quarter note. So
expressivity.
Ill often substitute sounds that
are digitally generated and have no basis
of comparison with real instruments it
creates a bit of an otherworldly atmosphere (think Martian ocarina or accordion from Saturn, maybe a djembe from
planet Pluto), which, on occasion, have a
place in the dance studio.
In an effort to balance these contradictions and my contrasting tastes,
heres my normal set up: a DrumKAT
MIDId to the JV1080 with both a thousand presets and some sound effects
cards for atmospheric elements in improv and comp classes. Ive programmed
the DrumKAT to have a number of
separate percussion kits some of which
are primarily Brazilian, others African,
and others Hip-Hop and electronic
sounds. I also have kits with pianos, marimbas, vibes, and cimbalom sounds.
And kits that mix all of the above with
acoustic or synth basses and pizzicato
strings. These kits can be switched instantly with a foot pedal. Additionally
there are a number of loops which Ive
recorded into the Kat using traditional
caixixi or agogo patterns, whose tempo I
can control with one of the pads and
which, when once triggered, can give me
a time and feel backdrop over which to
play.
Supplementing that, I occasionally bring in a Yamaha groove box, ei-

ther the AN200 or the DX200, which


provides full percussion and bass patterns so that I can play off it with either
my guitar, the congas, or the DrumKAT.
The downside to these is that they take
time to change patches and to set the
tempo, so I need to be working with a
teacher who knows to vamp til Im
ready (usually 15-20 seconds).
Now all of this gear STUFF depends on the vicissitudes of electricity
and circuit boards, and anything can go
wrong at any moment!! and at some
point in my career theyve all gone
wrong. So I always have at least a conga,
perhaps a d j e m b e or a cajon , and a
trusty, rusty diatonic accordion that suffers from emphysema giving it a
charming wheeze-factor. And even when
everything is copasetic in the electronic
realm, I make it a point of switching
regularly between electronic and acoustic instruments. Im really just a sound
slut, and I try to keep variety in my
choice of sonics for the class. Analog,
digital, orbital, microbial if it makes
interesting sounds, Ill use it hopefully
with an ear for phrasing and expressivity.

Jon Scoville is Music Director of the


University of Utah Modern Dance program, as well as co-artistic director of
Tandy Beal & Co. Composer of dance
scores for numerous dance luminaries,
he is the author of Sound Designs, a
Handbook of Musical Instrument Building.
http://www.albertsbicycle.com
You can hear examples of some of
the sounds described in this article
on the CD enclosed with this journal.
(The CD list is found on the last
page.)

40

Reasoning with the


DrumKAT: Electronic
Percussion in the Dance
Class

but I have used electronic music in jazz


and tap classes. The ability to play bass
lines and groove simultaneously works
well for Jazz class, and, especially for
Tap class with the music being amplified.
My general approach is pretty
much the same; I still put accents in the
same places during the combinations,
add and subtract layers from the musical
texture in the same way, and use short
sounds for staccato movement and long
sounds for legato movement; my textural and melodic percussion approach
is still intact. What did change the most
dramatically was the range of my palette
with the possibilities limited only to that
which is practical in the dance class environment. Electronic music added a
musical richness and versatility not present before.
I have a patch set up for those
long stretches; a repeating loop of an
ocean sound underneath a breathy concert bass drum, shaker, and woodblock
(run through a reverb effect) and a
bamboo flute, or piano. This may sound
a little New Age, but the transparency
of the texture is really effective for a
stretch class. I might use an Indian
tamboura sample with a tabla patch. I
can set up an African drum ensemble, a
Latin ensemble, a hip-hop groove, or a
rock band with bass, drums, and guitar
(advanced programming required). One
of my personal favorites is to play a
drum set patch with congas, shaker, and
a Seinfeld bass line for prances across
the floor. Its fun, it works, and the students in class love it. Sometimes I find
weird electronic sounds to create odd
textures to change the atmosphere, wake
up the class, or just add comic relief.
I have observed that using electronic percussion matches the energy of
amplified or canned music in terms of
the volume created by a sound system,
yet with the added presence of a live
musician. I have also found electronic
percussion in dance class to be ex-

By Neil Dunn
I first began using electronics in dance
class during the fall 2003 semester after
the long awaited purchase of a DrumKAT. I had
been an acousI still put accents in
tic player for
years with a
the same places
usual instruduring the combinamentation of
tions, add and
three congas,
djembe, hi-hat
subtract layers from
and
bass
the musical texture in
drum, piano,
the same way. . .
and toys.
With the inWhat did change the
troduction of
most dramatically
only a couple
was the range of my
electronic devices into the
palette. Electronic
dance class,
music added a musical
my palette of
richness and versatilsounds and
textures grew
ity not present before.
immensely
and immediately. In this article I will discuss some
of these devices and how I use them,
how I program the controllers for basic
use, how I set up sounds, and basics on
getting started before taking the applications to dance class.
As a graduate student at the University of Arizona, I played in a group,
Crosstalk , which pioneered the electronic percussion ensemble, a group that
uses a variety of instruments, all of
which are MIDI percussion controllers.
It was an obvious choice for me to take
this technology to dance class as I could
clearly see the possibilities and versatility. I play primarily for modern classes
41

tremely well received in class and at festivals.

between kits is very easy and can be


done with a foot pedal or by striking a
pad programmed to do a kit change.
Three foot-pedals on the DrumKAT are
typically used for sustain, edit mode, and
kit changes.
The DrumKAT can be
played with sticks, mallets, or with fingers, as the pads are very sensitive.

Gear
The minimum requirements for
my electronic setup include MIDI controllers, a USB MIDI interface, and my
laptop computer with a sequencing/sampling program and a sound system. I typically play through the sound
systems in the studios, connecting to the
mixer using an audio interface (or the
headphone jack on my computer).
My MIDI controllers include a
DrumKAT and a 4-octave MIDI keyboard. The DrumKAT is a MIDI percussion controller, which has no built-in
sounds and must
be used with an
One of the great
external sound
bank. The main
features of the
playing surface
DrumKAT is that it
has ten individual
can play notes
pads which altogether
are
from different
shaped like a cat
MIDI channels
(to me it looks
more like Mickey
simultaneously,
Mouse.)
The
meaning you can
DrumKAT can be
use a wide variety
played
with
sticks, mallets, or
of sounds from
even fingers for a
different patches.
softer touch. The
pads are simply
numbered 1 10. The DrumKAT also
has ports for up to 9 external triggers,
which function the same way as the
pads. During play mode, each pad can
play in a variety of ways: a single pitch
or sound, a combination or pitches
(chord), a sequence of alternating notes,
or a sequence of timed delays. In addition, each pad can be set up to play from
any of the 16 MIDI channels and
through left or right MIDI outputs,
which expands the capabilities of the instrument dramatically. The DrumKAT
is set up to use different sets of parameters for the playing surface, kits. My
DrumKAT can use up to 30 kits. Moving

Setting up the DrumKAT


For general percussion patches, I
have found that setting up the pads on
the DrumKAT to ascend chromatically
from C1 simplifies programming and
setting up sampler patches. In edit
mode you can program each pad to play
various parameters including MIDI
channel, pitch, gate time, and MIDI
OUT. One of the great features of the
DrumKAT is that it can play notes from
different MIDI channels simultaneously,
meaning you can use a wide variety of
sounds from different patches. This can
also cause much grief if that is not what
you want it to do as you may produce
extra sounds or find sounds missing. For
simple programming, be sure that all
the pads are set up to the same MIDI
channel. The DrumKAT is set up to use
MIDI OUT Left and Right. The pads can
be programmed to play MIDI OUT Left,
Right, or None. Tedious troubleshooting
sessions can be avoided by assuring all
your pads are sending the correct messages on the correct MIDI channels.
I typically set up the DrumKAT
surface like a multi-percussion set-up
with various percussion sounds on the
pads and various time keeping instruments (bass drum, hi-hat, cowbell) on
two homemade foot triggers. Often, I
will play a djembe or congas simultaneously with the electronic percussion.
Another common set-up for me is
to add the MIDI keyboard with the
DrumKAT. This may include some
string pad sounds on the keyboard to
support percussion played on the
DrumKAT. Sometimes I will pluck out
chords or play a bass line or melody on

42

Using Reason
For sound selection and sequencing, I use Reason 3.0, a sequencing program that includes samplers, synthesizers, a loop player, many effects devices,
and a drum machine. I use a laptop to
run this program (which is compatible
for Mac or Windows). With this program
I am able to use any of the thousands of
sounds included with Reason. However,
I often prefer to use my own samples,
which I made at home with basic recording software. I used percussion instruments, kitchen items, and household objects. This program also contains a sequencer, I often prefer to use
which allows you my own samples,
to record and
which I made at
play using loops.
The main home with basic
device I use in recording software.
Reason for dance
class is the NN- I used percussion
XT Advanced instruments, kitchen
Sampler. In addi- items, and household
tion to loading
existing patches objects.
such as piano,
vibes, or bass, I like to create percussion
patches with different groups of sounds
for different exercises. To accomplish
this, I load individual sounds into the
sampler and set them up so each sound
is played on a separate pitch, similar to
how percussion patches are set up on
most MIDI keyboards. I set up the
pitches to correspond with the parameters on the DrumKAT pads including
MIDI channel and pitch. If I am not
happy with the way the sounds are laid
out on the DrumKAT, I can easily
change the pitch on the Reason sampler
to change which sounds play through
the pads. This is quicker than reprogramming the pads. It is also easy to
layer sounds in this sequencer; simply
connect two or more sounds to one
pitch. One of my favorite features of
this sampler is the ease of editing the
parameters (amplitude, pitch, duration,

the keyboard while playing percussion


on the DrumKAT.
Layering the DrumKAT
For many of my kits I have a pad
or two dedicated to playing chords and
melodic sequences. A typical kit for me
would be set up one of two ways. 1) With
only percussion sounds (single notes) on
the pads, drum set, congas, cowbell, and
triangle, for example. 2) With percussion
sounds plus a few pads dedicated to piano chords (or vibraphone, or synth
pads, or whatever, the sounds can be easily changed) and a bass line of some sort
to be played on alternating notes. To
play different patches with the same kit,
I simply program each pad to communicate with the MIDI channel(s), which
correspond to the specific samplers (or
synthesizers, drum machines, etc.) as set
up on the Reason hardware interface.
For example: lets say I have the piano
patch set up to play on MIDI channel 1,
the bass sampler/patch set up to play on
MIDI channel 2, and the drum machine
set up top play on MIDI channel 3. I
would program a few pads to play
chords creating a simple progression.
Pads 1, 2, and 3 will be set up to play a I
IV V progression. These pads will be
programmed to play through MIDI
channel 1. I will then program pads 4, 5,
and 6 to all play 8-note alternating
melodies, corresponding to the chords.
Pads 4, 5, and 6 will be programmed to
play MIDI channel 2. With pads 7 10 I
will set up a basic drum kit, bass drum
hi-hat, snare and cymbals. I now have
all these voices at my fingertips, so to
speak. This doesnt give you nearly the
independence of human players, but
with some practice and creativity, you
can learn to layer the voices effectively.
Another way do this is to automate a
drum machine program and only be responsible for playing the piano and bass
(tempo changes are tricky this way however).

43

attack, release, effects, etc.) of individual


notes or groups of notes.

ready to play. Then maximize the remote editor on the NN-XT. Note that
directly under the keyboard diagram in
the samplers display window is a horizontal bar showing the pitch range at
which the controller will play notes.
Dragging the ends of the bar can change
the range from one note to many.
To create patches, first create a
new NN-XT sampler. After opening the
remote editor, right click (ctrl-click on
Mac) in the display window. From the
menu select add zone. This will give
you an empty sample location or zone.
Repeat as needed. Double-click the zone
reading **No Sample** and browse for
NN-XT Samples or samples from other
sources . To save the patch, click the
save icon next to the Patch Name (Init
Patch) and select the location. Creating
and saving patches in other devices uses
the same procedure.
In the remote editor is a knob
called Root this is the master tune for
the samples. You can use it to change
one or all samples. When you change
the root tuning, a marker moves across
the keyboard diagram in the editor window. If you load samples that dont
sound quite right, chances are the root
tuning is off. Simply move the root
tuner marker to correspond with the
pitch the note plays on.
My stock Reason files for dance
class are set up with several (duplicate)
samplers. The availability of multiple
samplers gives me the freedom to have
as many different instrument set-ups as I
want. Switching patches between exercises is as easy as a click of the mouse. I
can also easily switch between Kits on
the DrumKAT set up to play different
samplers corresponding to different
MIDI channels.

Setting Up Reason Files


After you assure the controllers
are set up to communicate with Reason
(preferences/ MIDI) you can begin to set
up the racks. The appearance of Reason files is similar to a physical rack
mount system for real audio/MIDI components. The front view displays the
front of the devices. By clicking the
tab button on your computer keyboard, you can
toggle the rack
to see the back,
I believe that,
where the diskinesthetically, the
play resembles
dancer has the same
the actual back
of the rack, caexperience with
bles and everyacoustic or electronic
thing. This alinstruments, espelows you to
change the way
cially considering the
cables and deinteractive nature of
vices are routed
live music.
(Reason will do
this automatically for you as well). When you open a
new file, Reason automatically creates
the hardware interface and mixer. You
need only create sound modules and
load sounds.
First, maximize the hardware interface located at the top of the rack.
Select which MIDI bus you will use (assuming you have already connected
your MIDI controller and set up MIDI
channels in preferences). Note the sixteen buttons below for MIDI channel
selection; these are used to select which
MIDI channels control the Reason devices.
Second, click the create menu
to choose the component. Select NNXT Advanced Sampler. Next to the
window reading Init Patch are buttons.
Click the folder icon to open a patch.
Use the browse window to select from
Reason NN-XT Sampler Patches. If you
are using a keyboard, you should be

Notes about Reason


When playing live in reason,
make sure the MIDI selection and the
record selection buttons are disabled in
the sequencer (below the rack) or you
may get unwanted sounds and/or noise.
44

These are located on the left column of


also been my observation that most
the sequencer. The MIDI keyboard and
dance instructors are happy with elecrecord icons should be off.
tronic percussion in class, provided my
When saving Reason files, samchoices are tasteful and supportive to the
ples, patches, and other, be
exercises. The same rules
absolutely sure to put them
still apply: I, as a dance
in a designated folder, the One of the trickier probmusician, am still responReason folder, or one you lems I first encountered
sible for making wise
create, and leave them there,
choices musically. I also
always. If you move them, it was that of latency the
believe that incorporating
may cause pathway problems miniscule amount of time
both acoustic and elecwhen opening files.
Of between striking the note
tronic instruments procourse these problems can be
vides a positive atmosundone, but it takes a lot less and hearing the note
pheric contrast.
time to just organize these seemed like an eternity
As for the mechanfiles in the same place from the first time. It was not
ics of the dance class and
the beginning (I learned the
using electronic percusthat
difficult
to
adjust
to;
hard way).
sion, I havent found that I
have to work all that difit just involved listening a
Other Devices
ferently with the instruclittle differently.
I have also used other
tors; I still rely on and
devices such as the E-MU
process the same informaProteus 2000, Roland JV-1010, and other
tion. I havent felt the need to ask teachsound modules with great success. These
ers to do anything differently. I still
devices are basically just sound banks
look for sounds and textures to embeland are very easy to use. Programming
lish the phrasing of the exercise. And as
the DrumKAT to communicate on difmentioned before, my general approach
ferent MIDI channels and other parameto phrasing has not changed. However, I
ters is exactly the same on these devices
have to work with myself differently and
as with Reason.
my skills at multitasking have developed further. For example: during the
Aesthetic Considerations
demonstration of an exercise, if I dont
Acoustic vs. electronic: does one
have the desired patch ready to go, I
rule? Personally, I am more comfortable
have to search for it. This requires that I
using acoustic instruments in dance
put on headphones on one ear; I listen to
class simply because I have spent more
potential sounds with one ear and the
time playing them, but I havent obteacher with the other. This sometimes
served that one is better than the other
takes my eyes off the teacher during
for dance class. I believe that, kinespart of the demonstration. I have to rely
thetically, the dancer has the same expeon my hearing more than before, but so
rience with acoustic or electronic infar, this hasnt caused me problems. As
struments, especially considering the
we all know, a good dance teacher can
interactive nature of live music. What I
give the necessary information with his
do know is most students usually react
or her voice. My problems usually occur
with enthusiasm on days when I set up
when I dont have the gear patched
the DrumKAT. Many students are curiproperly, which reflects on my preparaous and come over after class to hit the
tion, not the functionality of the gear.
pads to make electronic sounds. It has

45

One of the trickier problems I


first encountered was that of latency, a
delay measured in milliseconds. It takes
a fraction of a second for the striking of
the note to transfer from a MIDI signal
to an audio signal, which then has to
travel from the sound source to the
speakers, and then back to my ear. On
the DrumKAT,
with latency of
Using a laptop as a
the notes firing,
there is already a
sound module is a
perceived delay
bit cumbersome,
to the person
playing
the
but so are three
DrumKAT.
Take
congas and bass
into account the
drum. It takes me
distance of the
sound traveling
about 10 minutes to
from the speakers
set up or strike the
on the opposite
electronic gear, the
side of a large
dance studio in
same as to set up
addition latent
and tune drums.
MIDI sounds, the
instant gratification we are used to with our normal instruments changes completely. The
miniscule amount of time between striking the note and hearing the note
seemed like an eternity the first time. It
was not all that difficult to adjust to this
phenomenon; it just involved listening a
little differently. I had a new appreciation to the term anticipation.
Even though I love the challenges and fun of playing electronic
music in class, I still use acoustic instruments much of the time. I still consider myself an amateur when it comes
to mastering my electronic set in the
dance class environment. On a good
day, I am able to set up a number of
kits to be able to make a smooth transition between exercises without having
to fuss around with screens, MIDI channels, volume, or any number of little
settings issues, which can possibly go
wrong. I like to have several kits ready
to go at any time to accommodate different needs of the class. There have

been a few situations, unfortunately,


when I have found myself embarrassed
during class because I have not had
smooth transitions between exercises
due to either technical difficulty or human error. In this situation I will often
grab the drum (which is always near by)
and try to fix the problem during the
next demonstration. As I gain a better
mastery of using my own electronic set
for class, I will use it more and more.
As I mentioned above, even when
using MIDI instruments in class, I invariably have at least a djembe and pair
of congas near by. Sometimes the exercise calls for just a drum. Other times I
will combine the acoustic and electronics. I like to trigger loops with the sequencer and play along with the drums
(if tempo changes will not be an issue,
changing tempo while playing is difficult using Reason ). Other times I will
play the drums with the DrumKAT as if
it were just one of drums in my set up.
Its kind of fun to throw in a roll on a
concert bass drum from the sky into
the mix with congas, as an example.
This has a slight effect on the over all
mix, depending on the room. I have
been in studios where I can set up right
underneath one of the speakers. In this
situation, if I set the volume on the
sound system properly, there is no problem with the mix. In fact, I have been
told that it provides a cool special effect.
In other situations, I have had to set up
either where are speakers in all four
corners, or there are speakers on the opposite side of the room. With the inherent latency of the DrumKAT, this can
create some minor phasing issues because I have to hit the DrumKAT a fraction of a second sooner than the conga if
I want them to sound at the same time.
However, I have not found this difficult
to work around, it just takes a bit of anticipation. In fact, it was surprising to
me how easy it was to adjust to this phenomenon.
In spite of the fact that nothing
replaces the sound of a real drum, I can
46

think of at least a couple of advantages


choices for technique class. Perhaps in
to the electronic setup, the first being
the future, the musicians in our field
portability. I have been in a
would gain the necessary
situation where I needed the
training and skills in setting
I feel training in the
full range of instruments but
up, programming, and playuse of electronic inhad to travel by air or in a
ing electronic gear in dance
small car. I can carry all the struments [for dance
class. Certainly there are a
gear necessary to operate musicians] would need
growing number of dance
DrumKAT in a backpack and
musicians who already embriefcase, provided there is a to be in programming
ploy this technology in class.
sound system available the sound banks,
Electronic music will
where I will travel. Using a modules, and sequencmost likely work its way into
laptop as a sound module is a
the dance studio more frebit cumbersome, but so are ers more than in
quently as more musicians
three congas and bass drum. playing instruments.
are given the opportunity to
It takes me about 10 minutes
use electronic gear. This
to set up or strike the electronic gear,
trend is already evident in major dance
the same as to set up and tune drums.
departments and at dance festivals. The
The second advantage is purely that of
thought of standardizing the generalized
the nearly unlimited sound library
training in the use of electronic instruavailable with the electronic gear. If I
ments may be a reasonable notion for
choose, I can produce practically any
the future. I feel training in the use of
texture I wish in order to technically and
electronic instruments would need to be
aesthetically support the dance enviin programming the sound banks, modronment. My only limitations are my
ules, and sequencers more than in playskills (or lack of) in using the equipment
ing instruments. Once the programand in creativity.
ming is done, the rest takes care of itself,
The obvious advantage to acousassuming a certain technical ability on
tic instruments is that of availability and
the instrument (keyboard, etc). A keyability. Most dance departments have at
board player could use the instructions
least a piano and a set of congas availabove for programming Reason on a
able in the dance studios. Many dance
MIDI keyboard and achieve the same if
departments most likely do not have a
not better results.
DrumKAT in the closet. In other words,
piano and congas are more accessible to
the dance musicians. Ability refers to
the skills of anyone who might be using
Neil Dunn, percussionist, composer, and
the electronic instruments. We can asdance musician is on the dance faculty
sume that an experienced pianist hired
at Kansas State University. Neil teaches
to play for the ballet class knows how to
Rhythmic Notation for dancers, accom(1) Play the necessary instrument and (2)
panies classes, trains accompanists, and
Properly accompany the exercises. The
is production manager for dance prosame assumption can be made for a perductions.
cussionist playing a modern class, or any
www.neildunnpercussion.com
other dance musician. The same would
not be true if, say, every dance departYou can hear examples of some of
ment did own a DrumKAT. Without exthe sounds described in this article
tra training, the pianist, percussionist,
on the CD enclosed with this jourstring player, or wind player may not be
nal. (The CD list is found on the
able to just set up this equipment, turn it
last page.)
on, and make aesthetically pleasing
47

Beat keeping,
sound alteration, and
improvisational liberty
through music technology
or how I have semiretired my ankle bells.

been learning because I wanted to bring


those timbres to the dancers.
Because of technology (and, unfortunately, the prohibitive expense of
acquiring a grand piano for the studio), I
havent actually played a piano in over
six years, even though we have a perfectly suitable Kawai upright in the ballet studio. The other full-time department musician at Texas Womans University, Susan Myatt, always uses the
Kawai for her ballet classes. But my ear
says that half of the dozen piano sounds
on the Technics Digital Ensemble SXPR900 in the same studio sound better
than that upright and the rest sound at
least as good, including the sample
called upright piano which suspiciously
sounds like it may have been sampled or
recorded here. I rarely choose to use
that sound either. And the synthesizer
seems to always stay in tune except, of
course, the two or three piano samples
that are intentionally slightly out of
tune to better replicate the honky-tonk
sound from an upright piano!
Technology has changed and currently shapes my accompaniment in so
many different ways, that the allacoustic-no-technology-involved classes
are mainly reserved for those days when
the weather is so nice we decide to have
class outside on the lawn, or there is
some type of power shortage in the
building.
However, there are actually only
five or six steps in the process of using
technology in dance class. Most of these
do not differ too greatly from how I
played dance classes without technology.
They include:
1. Choosing the instruments or
sounds
2. Choosing a preset rhythm or
creating (sequencing) a new rhythm
3. Choosing the method of presentation of the rhythm
4. Altering the waveform of the
instruments or sounds
5. Improvising with or over all of
the above choices

By Keith Fleming
Once a dancer I didnt recognize
asked me if I was the fellow who
strapped a tambourine to his foot. While
this wasnt exactly how I
wanted to be
Technology has
identified, I had
changed my
to admit that I
accompaniment in so
was the guy.
Now, with the
many different
superior alterways, that the
natives of techall-acoustic-nonology, I rarely
use the foot
technology-involved
tambourine or
classes are mainly
those
ankle
reserved for those
bells or any
other simple
days when the
acoustic beat
weather is so nice we
keeping sounds
decide to have class
anymore. Occasionally I will
outside on the lawn.
use them when
I want those
specific sounds and the musical effect
they produce, like instrumental simplicity or natural ritual, but because of technology, I now have hundreds of excellent beat keeping alternatives, each with
specific sounds and a musical effect that
more closely matches the variety of music I am trying to make. Back then only
some type of foot stomping could help
me with the beat keeping function when
I played, especially when I was playing
some new instrument, which I may have

48

6. Delivering all that sound and


those choices to the studio.
Of these six, the first four are
simply expansions of what I would normally do in an acoustic class, and the
technology just gives me scads of added
variability. The great fun of using the
technology is in the fifth step, increasing
the scope and playfulness of your improvisational possibilities!

chestrations are wonderful. Now keyboard players can almost instantly sound
like they play all the instruments in the
world. OK, maybe not instantly. Some
simplification, alteration or elimination
of normal left hand piano work is required to get a good and convincing accordion or guitar or bassoon.
Another great feature of some
synthesizers, including the Technics
Digital Ensemble SX-PR900 which is
about a decade old and in both of our
main studios, is to allow you to mix two
sounds not on separate parts of the
keyboard, but actually intertwining their
waveforms,
where each key
plays both instruments to- With many of the
gether. For ex- classroom triples I
ample, the ma- sequence my own
rimba/harp mix
has the attack rhythms on the fly,
and
h o l l o w which has a slightly
overtones of the steeper learning curve
marimba but it
has the sustain than choosing a preand decay of set, especially when
the harp, creat- you consider how fast
ing an amazing
and
u n i q u e you may have to cresound. Since ate one.
you can generally control the
volume of each instruments influence
in the blend, the variety and subtlety of
combinations is astounding.
This is also an example of how
improving technology generally increases interesting features, because earlier versions of the Technics Digital Ensemble did not have this capability.
Texas Womans University has two of
these earlier versions, which are now in
studios with a slightly lower priority.

1. Choosing a Sound
The first step in using technology, choosing instruments or sounds, is
completely natural for me and for my
style of accompaniment, where timbre
is elevated and its relationship with
dance dynamics and effort are emphasized. I have always tried to bring as
many instruments as possible into the
studio and to use them in as many different ways with as many different articulations as I could muster.
Having the large array of beautifully sampled instruments and craftily
created sounds that are available in most
modern synthesizers, enables a level of
aural variety previously impossible. Most
of the instrumental sounds are quite
good now and getting better as the technology of recording, sampling and replicating sounds improves. This wasnt always the case. Only in the last fifteen
years have synthetic or sampled sounds
been very compelling to the ear, widely
available on most synthesizers, really
easy to use and inexpensive. If you have
not tried pizzicato strings or a solo oboe
sound in even your most traditional ballet class you and your dancers have a
lot to look forward to.
Frequently modern keyboards
have the capability of splitting, with
variable split points that allow different
instruments or sounds in different parts
of the keyboard, making, for example, a
duet of upright bass in the left hand and
jazz guitar in the right hand possible all
at once. So not only are there more single sounds to choose, but the endless
combinations of sounds, the possible or-

2. Choosing or Creating a Rhythm


The second step in my use of
technology in dance class is choosing
and adjusting the rhythm. While we all
have our own internal library, or mem49

ory, of preset rhythms, technology affords us a rather expansive array of alternatives. Many of these rhythm presets
are geared toward commercial music
(pop, rock, funk, Latin, jazz, house, big
band, easy listening, classical etc.) and
consequently have about ten times more
duple meters than triple meters, even
including the compounded triples. Consequently, with many of the classroom
triples I sequence my own rhythms on
the fly, which has
a slightly steeper
learning curve
This idea that you
than choosing a
may want to compreset, especially
pensate in some
when you consider how fast
ways increasing
you may have to
or altering some
create one. Of
qualities of music
course, you can
create and store
in your acoustic
sequences in adaccompaniment to
vance. Sequencoffset some of the
ing
complex
r
h
y
t
h
m
s
or
weaknesses of the
rhythmic changapplication of
es can be difficurrent technology
cult, probably requiring time out should be careside class. Frefully considered.
quently, however,
rhythmic properties like adjusting or altering the tempo,
are as simple as a tap feature, which allows you to tap the tempo on some key
and the synthesizer adjusts everything to
your tap rate.
For me, the main value in these
preset rhythms is for movement across
the floor at the end of class when multiple voices and increased energy are
called upon. Or sometimes when an instructor really wants some continuous
rhythm for an extraordinary length of
time like over fifteen minutes and
you know in advance that this may happen. Many synthesizers have multiple
variations of each specific rhythm, which
can be changed instantly. Using these
rhythmic variations to demarcate

phrases or sections of the music can


have a dramatic effect on the rhythmic
perception and reaction in the dancers.
Some of the drum parts are well
conceived as a foundation for improvisation like the standard jazz and rock
kits. When I am working with student
drummers in class, frequently I will let
them briefly hear the preset as a possible
template, or trigger the rhythm and
have them superimpose their playing
then dial back the preset volume. In a
circumstance like this, I use the technology as a teaching resource and use the
preset rhythms or parts of the rhythms
as examples of musical ideas that I and
my student musicians can copy or embellish. Since I have student musicians
who play a variety of instruments, some
of these presets and the chamber accompaniment patterns that go with
them can be useful for suggesting an
electric guitar part, a sax part or a flute
part.
However, sometimes mechanical
rhythm drives everybody crazy, even
though it can be excellent training for
you, for the dancers and for the instructors. While a digitally controlled rhythm
instantly eliminates any questions (or
possible conflicts) about slowing down
or speeding up the counts or music,
ironically it may be important to increase your use of nuanced phrasing and
rhythms when you are not using these
mechanical rhythms, or in the parts you
improvise over them. This idea that you
may want to compensate in some ways
increasing or altering some qualities of
music in your acoustic accompaniment
to offset some of the weaknesses of the
application of current technology should
be carefully considered, especially if
teaching or training are part of your
goals as a dance musician.
There are ways of adding nuance
to sequences, like not quantizing or using real-time loops. There are ways of
altering the tempo manually to sound
like rallentando or other rhythmic practices. But there is a point of diminishing
50

returns, where concentrating on using


the technology or making the technology seem less synthetic can actually interrupt your creative process and your
primary function as a good accompanist.

Some creative ideas, like this one developed from technological possibilities,
have turned around and influenced my
acoustic ideas for making dance music!
Though many of the accompaniment presets give you a large and
3. Using Accompaniment Presets
comprehensive sound that may seem
The third step in my use of techbalky or unwieldy, do not disregard
nology is choosing the method of
them wholesale. By looking inside these
rhythmic presentation and representachamber accompaniments you might be
tion. Many synthesizers have chamber
surprised at how many of the single inaccompaniment patterns that include
strument accompaniment patterns that
the percussion part, a bass part, and two
they contain are functional even outside
or three other instruments in the acthe original realm of the rhythm they
companiment like guitar, piano, and
represent. For instance, the guitar acsaxophone. These accompaniment parts
companiment in a standard funk or jazz
change considerably with each rhythm
rhythm might be perfect for tendus and
and even within the simple variations of
really impart a completely different muone rhythm. For example,
sical sense than funk or jazz,
while all four of the polka
especially with creative imrhythms use the same clunky Creative ideas, like
provisation over that part. Or
tuba line as the bass instru- this one developed
the saxophone accompaniment, two of eight reggae from technological
ment in a soul rhythm can
rhythms use two bass players
provide the foundation for
simultaneously and there are possibilities, have
trying out some sounds you
three or four distinct reggae turned around and
might rarely have considered,
alternatives. But even the polka influenced my acouslike the overdrive electric
tuba can be useful for creating
guitar.
a Tom Waits or Brave Combo tic ideas for making
Just because the
sound.
manufacturer and all their
dance music!
Some synthesizers allow
music consultants thought
you to remix this accompamusicians would use the
niment by changing the volume of the
technology this way or that way doesnt
parts or eliminating them. This means
mean you have to limit yourself to those
sometimes you can eliminate the drums
alternatives. Unfortunately, those manuand just use the guitar and bass parts or
facturers and consultants rarely consider
just the preset vibraphone accompaniwhat we dance musicians might need or
ment of some jazz rhythm, or, as I menhow we might use some feature betioned, just the clunky tuba from the
cause we are rare birds, even among
polka. In an extended exercise, somemusicians. I love creatively using the
times I will start by muting all the parts
technology in these unintended ways.
except the bass pattern of a rhythm and
Though the learning curve on
subsequently add or unmute the other
some of these features might seem
preset accompaniment parts, the percussteep, like becoming familiar enough
sion, guitar, etc. as the exercise develops
with each accompaniment pattern that
and repeats phrases all while I am imyou know which ones have good rhythm
provising over the rhythm with one of
guitar parts, it really depends on your
my hands. This adds a unique textural
classroom situation and your relationdevelopment to the accompaniment that
ship with the instructors and dancers.
subtly urges the dancers to increase the
Even if you just listened to and investiscope and dynamics of their movement.
gated one accompaniment pattern every
51

class, discreetly fiddling with it at a very


low volume in the course of fifteen
weeks, with ten or fifteen classes a week,
you would have covered most of them.
Coming to an understanding with the
dance instructors that you are not being
impolite by quietly fiddling, but are trying to make new, unique and compelling work based on their movement is
important. And if they hear those results, most potential problems are
eliminated. Learning how to do this
without being distracting requires sensitivity and a continually and genuinely
clear display of your desire to make the
best music for the dancers that you can.

mix of two instruments/sounds method I


discussed earlier. This mix of original
and altered waveform is a unison and
isnt a unison all at once. Because you
can vary the mix by changing the volume of both the original and altered
sound in the mix and also by changing
the amount or intensity of waveform alteration in the altered sound, this creates
a nearly infinite array of variation for
each individual instrument or sound.
These ghostly unison sounds have an
almost ineffable effect on my creativity.
5. Improvisation Over Your Choices
The fifth step in my use of technology is the reason for becoming familiar with the first four steps improvising
with your hands and feet and heart and
mind free. With the minimum requirements of a decent piece of dance
accompaniment already fulfilled by using the technology adroitly in the first
three or four ways, you can play and go
in some directions you never thought
possible in dance class. You can relate to
different aspects of the movement directly or indirectly or abstractly or concretely, or change the way you relate
every 32 counts.
I find it very interesting when I
attach my first choices of sound, rhythm
and presentation closely with the
movement, to close my eyes and indirectly relate to the movement by improvising with the music I just created, then
open my eyes and directly attach my
improvisation to the movement, which
creates a completely different feeling. Or
by doing the opposite and starting the
exercise with my directly related improvisation and adding abstractly related
sounds or rhythms or accompaniment
fragments after the dancers have incorporated the movement. These subtle
changes can create a remarkable and
rich classroom dynamic. For me, technology has clearly increased the variety
and quantity of ways I can relate the
music in each dance exercise to the
movement.

4. Altering Waveforms
The fourth step in my use of
technology is altering the waveforms by
adding the effects of flanging or distortion, or changing the space of the
sound by adding
reverb or delay. On
Lately I have been
the Technics it is
mixing altered
possible to precisely control the
waveforms with
percentage
of
their originals
waveform alteration for each effect
using the mix of
from zero to one
two instruments.
hundred. In many
These ghostly
ways this is like an
advanced applicaunison sounds
tion of choosing
have an almost
instruments and
ineffable effect on
sounds or instrumental articulamy creativity.
tion. Most of these
standard waveform
alterations were created by the fabulous
electric guitar players of the last three
generations and they are just fun to use,
especially if the class needs to rock out.
If you havent heard a moderately
flanged French horn with a weak single
delay and rich dark reverb try it. It
could inspire you to make music you
never considered.
Lately I have been mixing altered
waveforms with their originals using the
52

Occasionally I will trigger a


newly created keyboard accompaniment
and actually leave the keyboard to go
find another instrument to improvise
with like adding acoustic sounds; cymbals, a simple pennywhistle melody, a
conga track, some acoustic guitar or
Brazilian whistles. You have to remain
fairly close though, because you generally need to turn the synthesizer or sequencer off in a timely fashion. A
jammed on/off switch is a hysterical
nightmare!!! but things like that occasionally happen when you add a layer of
complexity to what you once did.

and other pieces of music technology in


the dance studio attracts musicians, like
having a good drum kit or an excellent
set of hand drums if you are interested
in doing that. Currently, there are many
quality mid-sized and large amplifiers
available that have built-in synthetic
sound alteration features, saving the cost
of a series of separate effects.
Of course you must be careful
about feedback if you are using microphones or acoustic/electric pick-ups. Recently, however, I was actually able to With technology and
control
the
its applications, that is
feedback like a
second voice changing. Pianists
(thank you Jimi must now become caHendrix) while
playing an am- pable of manipulating
plified harmon- synthesizers and using
ica solo altered technology.
through the
Roland Cube
whose output I attached to the Crate
amplifier. Though it was originally an
accident (I got too close to the Crate
with the harmonica and microphone,) I
am working on adding it to my repertory.
You should also be careful using
any amplifier in the extreme range of its
capabilities, which distorts the sound
with a muddy or opaque result. Also,
sometimes I have to remind myself that
just because I have amplifiers, it doesnt
mean I should disregard the wide variety of dynamic possibilities I want to use
in making dance class music.

6. Amplification
The sixth step in my use of technology is about delivery. Our main
modern dance studio now has four amplifiers. A Roland Micro Cube amplifier,
a small Fender R.A.D. guitar amplifier, a
Crate KX-50 amplifier with two inputs;
one attached to a Roland XP-50 synthesizer (I station it on the right hand side
of the Technics so I am boxed in on one
side and yes, sometimes I try to play two
synthesizers at once, wishing I was Joe
Zawinul.) The Crate is also ready for any
other electric instruments (guitar, bass,
Roland Handsonic) that my student musicians or I bring to the studio. We also
have an Anchor Audio MPA 5000 amplifier on a stand attached to the Technics
keyboard, which also has its own set of
built-in speakers. Arranging and changing the position and direction of these
amplifiers in the space alters the sonic
environment and also allows us to use
them for different functions. Sometimes
I point them at the wall right behind the
musicians and get indirect and reflective
sound. Sometimes when we have a student drummer at the kit, he needs to
really hear the synthetic bass or the
rhythmic pattern, so the Anchor Audio
becomes a monitor. Sometimes when
the dancers are crossing the floor diagonally a speaker in the corner pushes
them in ways they like to be pushed!
Having amplifiers, a microphone

Conclusion
The happy result of these technologies is that now even more musicians of all sorts (singers, wind players,
guitarists etc.) are creating remarkable
sounds both in the classroom and on the
stage. However, when I became a dedicated dance musician nearly thirty years
ago, pianists dominated dance accompaniment (like most of the 20th century)
53

and the percentage of other musicians


generators into our dance classes at
was very low. Most of the others were
Texas Womans University, which they
percussionists. Our Guild is dominated
plugged into our amplifiers. Actually,
by pianists. Being a decent pianist with
Gabe brought his own AER Acoustic
an understanding and appreciation of
Domino Amplifier. Sarah had her midance was about all it took to find plenty
crophone attached to a Digitech Studio
of work.
200 and a Kaoss Pad mixed through a
With technology and its applicaBehringer Euro Rack 602A mixer. Gabe
tions, that is changing. Pianists must
had his microphone attached to a Line
now become capable of manipulating
Six Delay then to his AER amplifier.
synthesizers and using technology. It is
Gabe brought his bass clarinet, a variety
wonderful fun and actually not nearly as
of flutes including a Quena, multiple
difficult as becoming a decent pianist.
ocarinas, Korean temple bells, singing
Already it seems clear to me that the
bowls, rattles and shakers. Gabe looped
majority of private dance studios no
and layered sounds and Sarah processed
longer have pianos. If you
and looped sounds. As a
want to play the piano, you
duet they covered many
may need to bring one What studios need are
of the possible technoand it is best if you can just
logical treatments of a
carry it. While the number excellent amplifiers that the
single melodic or percusof pianos in dance studios dancers can use as part of
sive line.
declines, we all must urge their performance sound
I was so impressed
dancers to still continue uswith their creative scope
ing live music and to invest system. What studios need
and the sensitivity of their
in the technology for their are synthesizers with
intertwining technology
studios that increases the fabulous piano sounds and
with their acoustic invariety of musical possibilistruments, that this sumties, the technology that the best possible piano feel,
mer, while recuperating
also includes the widest va- but a huge palette of other
from
reconstructive
riety of musicians. What sounds and functions.
shoulder surgery, I
studios need are excellent
bought the Boss RC-20
amplifiers that the dancers
loop generator. Until now
can use as part of their performance
I have only created loops on the sesound system, but are also available for
quencing features of the keyboard synclassroom musicians to plug into. What
thesizers or drum machines I have used.
studios need are synthesizers with fabuI bought an Ibanez acoustic/electric guilous piano sounds and the best possible
tar which I can plug into the loop genpiano feel, but a huge palette of other
erator and any effects, producing a varisounds and functions.
ety of guitar sounds from a densely elecThe bright side is that very soon
tric rock sound, to a clean jazz sound or
many or all the features I described on
a mellow acoustic sound. Until now I
the Technics may become available on
have mostly used the nylon string guitar
synthesizers that cost hundreds of dolin class. I also bought a very cheap set of
lars, not thousands of dollars.
harmonicas (Hohner Piedmont Blues
Last spring I was spellbound by a
with a case) which I mention because
duo a singer, Sarah Alexander, and a
technology has increased the ways I can
wind player, Gabriel Lit both recent
use my collection of acoustic instrugraduates from the music program at
ments too, like Gabe and Sarah. In this
the University of North Texas. Each
case I can play harmonica duets and
brought a Shure SM-58 Beta microphone
trios using loops or as I previously
and a small array of effects and loop
mentioned play an electric and altered
54

harmonica sound sometimes even using


feedback.
I also bought a Roland Handsonic HPD10 percussion synthesizer,
which has a circular pad with multiple
triggers that you can play with your fingers, hands or sticks. Playing it feels
much more like you are playing an actual drum than playing the synthetic
percussion on the keyboard feels. I still
use the keyboard for melodic percussion
and for adding any percussion to pre-set
rhythms, but for exercises that suggest
solo percussion, I prefer the Handsonic.
Improving technology has continually
increased the variety and styles of triggering instruments other than the guitar
or keyboard. Using the Handsonic enables me to follow my doctors orders
not to play a lot of hand percussion right
now because I can set the sensitivity on
the Handsonic pad to play it with my
fingers. It still offers good percussion
sounds in the classroom and a bit of the
feel of playing though I sorely miss
the vigor of actually playing percussion.
Technology can aid
recuperation.
The ease of colCurrently
very inexpensive
lecting, and the
small practice amremarkable size
plifiers (like the
of the collection
Roland
Micro
Cube)
are
available
that an iPod
which have multiaffords are
ple sound alterafantastic but I
tion features built
in with individual
certainly do not
controls, so you can
want to be
manipulate the
replaced by one.
sound as part of the
amplification. Although their dynamic range, what I
would call good amplification, is restricted, their best feature is becoming
familiar with sound alteration on the fly.
I bought one of these too. With a cheap
microphone, a loop generator and a micro cube amplifier you may create
smiles in dance class that wont soon
disappear.

This fall, Jennifer Keller, a modern dancer from Slippery Rock University, performed at Texas Womans University with a remote headset microphone whose sound was then processed
through a pre-programmed Lexicon effects generator which we plugged into
our mixing board. She was accompanying herself with her amplified and altered breath. Because I was running the
sound in our studio performance space,
she allowed me to creatively add a combination of effects (pong delay and
flanging), which were available on the
Lexicon, to part of her dance. She also
allowed me to fade out the amplified
and altered sound to reveal just the
natural acoustic sound of her manipulated breathing.
Earlier the same day in part of
her master class, I accompanied the
dancers with a microphone using amplified, phased and delayed phonetic word
sounds all with the quietness of whispering. The next day after Jennifers performance I too was breathing into the
microphone. However, I was glad she
introduced the amplified breathing idea
to the faculty and students.
As technology continues to influence a greater and greater amount of
the music around us, it also provides us
the opportunity to creatively use it in the
dance class. I am hoping that by the end
of the semester I will be permanently
using one of our old mixing boards in
the dance studio to facilitate the increasing amount of technological alternatives
and combinations my student musicians
and I want to use.
Though I know I will always feel
dissatisfied if I dont have some quiet
and intimate acoustic moments in class
(like my classical guitar or even simply
the unadulterated synthetic grand piano
sound on the Technics,) especially in reflective and internally directed dance
moments, I realize that I must also present some sound and energy and rich
textural complexity that transcends any
of the acoustic instruments I play or any
55

of the acoustic music that I alone could


play even with foot stomping tambourines and ankle bells. I feel compelled to
include some music that embraces the
variety, complexity and energy available
through technology. Incorporating and
embracing this is rejuvenating my playing.
And I believe that Id better embrace it or soon I may find I am replaced
by the instructors iPod plugged into the
studios sound system, which is tough
competition. Lately I have noticed that
the iPod is the musical alternative most
commonly used in the teaching experiences of more and more of our graduate
students when they arrive especially
the experienced teachers. I have also noticed that the percentage of undergraduate students who have danced to
live music either in the classroom or in
performance is continually decreasing
and may now be in the low single digits.
Most students have rarely had live music
in any of their classes even their ballet
classes.
Consequently, I believe I need to
demonstrate to all of them that live music is more inventive, more collaborative
and responsive to the needs and changes
that happen in class, more fun, and a
significant part of the learning environment a part
that is superior to
If we do not
their iPod and the
music they love
creatively use the
and know the most,
advantages that
which they can
technology
now carry around
with them all the
provides then
time and use any
we are destined to
way they want to.
be replaced by it.
Add the fact that
more and more of
these students have music editing programs on their personal computers, or
even on the Universitys computers,
which enables them to even alter the
music they love and know the most to
perfectly fit any use they have for it
like rehearsing, dancing, teaching and

even performing and it becomes very


tough competition indeed!
The ease of collecting and transporting music and the remarkable size
of the collection that an iPod affords are
fantastic, especially in conjunction with
a burgeoning music library on the computer. I may buy one soon, but I certainly do not want to be replaced by one.
This fall, when classes were starting, I went shopping to replace some
broken cheap portable sound systems
used for rehearsals and theory classes in
the studios. Before I finalized the purchase I asked many of the dancers what
they wanted in a sound system. They
immediately mentioned that an external
input for their iPod was the first minimum requirement for anything new. In
my experience that represents a significant shift from what dancers had previously primarily demanded from a sound
system - like significant volume, ease of
function, a pause feature, the ability to
play multiple sources (cassette, CD-R,
CD-RW or mp3 ) or a great remote control. Now, they have the music in hand
and they simply need a way to project it
in their dancing environments.
If we do not creatively use the
advantages and variety that technology
provides for making dance music, then
we are destined to be replaced by it.

Keith Fleming is a dance musician at


Texas Womans University.
KFmusic@Verizon.net or
KFleming@TWU.EDU and also at:
940-898-2094 or 918 N.Bell Ave. Apt. B,
Denton, Texas, 76209
You can hear examples of some of
the sounds described in this article
on the CD enclosed with this journal.
(The CD list is found on the last
page.)

56

On Dance Class
Accompaniment with
the Computer

companied at the University of Michigan, the Joffrey Midwest Work-shop, and


around New York City and elsewhere for
David Dorfman, Jennifer Nugent, John
Jasperse and others, often as a component of touring or collaborative residencies.

By Chris Peck

Technique
My hardware setup for accompanying dance classes is:
- A modest Macintosh Laptop (not the
newest or the fastest)
- A 16-Fader MIDI Controller (Doepfer
Pocket Fader)
- A powered speaker (JBL Eon 10)

Background
My interest in collaboration with
dance has developed in parallel with my
interest in electro-acoustic improvised
music, so there has never been a question of how to integrate technology.
Computers, samplers, and speakers were
my tools of
choice from the
start. The first
As far as I know I
time I sat in on a
am the only
dance class I
brought two CD
musician at ADF
players, a reverb
who can fit all of
box, and a microtheir gear on a
phone. I play a
few real inbicycle, and Im
struments too (I
quite macho about
grew up playing
it.
flute and guitar)
but these have
only more recently begun to factor back
into my work.
I came to class accompaniment
through my collaborations with choreographers. While I was a student at the
University of Michigan under the mentorship of Stephen Rush I began making
pieces with student choreographers, and
I had made at least one half evening and
one full evening dance score before I so
much as set foot in a technique class.
My class accompaniment practice grew
out of an interest in deepening my understanding of the field, of educating
myself to be a better collaborator.
Most of my class accompaniment
experience has been as a member of the
music faculty at American Dance Festival so I've had experience playing for a
wide variety of teachers. I have also ac-

As far as I know I am the only


musician at ADF who can fit all of their
gear on a bicycle, and Im quite macho
about it. I use a ratchet tie-down to keep
the speaker on the back rack. The rest
can fit in a backpack. Who can afford
gasoline on the dance musicians budget
anyway?
On the software end I use a set of
custom-built Max/MSP patches for sample playback, manipulation, and processing driven by a flexible pattern sequencer. (If youre not familiar with the
Max/MSP programming environment,
check out cycling74.com.) Using
Max/MSP has saved me from the headache of building the software entirely
from scratch (i.e. writing my own device
drivers, interface elements, and DSP
code), while still providing enough
flexibility to evolve the instrument over
time as my experience and needs
change. My process of developing a
strategy for playing dance classes has
been intertwined with an iterative software design process where I am both the
sole developer and the sole user: jotting
down notes on the limitations of my
patches during class, then later modifying the software to expand or modify its
functionality. Ive also gone through
periods of abstaining from software
modification, keeping the instrument
stable so I can actually learn to play it.
57

My process of
developing a
strategy for
playing dance
classes has
been intertwined with an
iterative software design
process where
I am both the
sole developer
and the sole
user.

Screenshot 1: Patterns

The instrument Ive arrived at is


more or less a souped-up drum machine
with lots of strange configuration options and an interface designed to build
up layered rhythm/melody/harmony/
texture patterns quickly from scratch
rather than working from presets (see
Screenshot 1: Patterns). Compared to a
standard drum machine or pattern sequencer that you may have seen, it is
less user-friendly but offers much more
flexible routing of control information
and real time, raw, low-level access to its
internal workings. Many of the options
would look familiar if you have ever
used a sampler, such as setting the envelope of a drum sound (see Screenshot 2:
Samples p. 59), but others, such as sequencing the playback speeds of a set of
asynchronous layered loops (see Screenshot 3: Loops p. 60), might look quite
odd.

The instrument has evolved to support


enough of the right kinds of control to
play a dance class, such as being able to
quickly build up rhythms in response to
an exercise, quickly set and adjust tempos to stay in sync, etc, while keeping
enough chaos and weirdness in the mix
that the end result stays interesting.
There is a tension between the agile control necessary to respond to the class and
the complexity necessary to allow interesting musical textures to emerge.
Aesthetics
This way of working presents many
challenges with fulfilling the "basic requirements" of traditional dance class
accompaniment, but I have found that
these challenges lead to aesthetically
interesting results. My interest as a
composer for dance is to create music
that works in counterpoint with or even

Screenshot 1: Patterns

58

My interest
as a composer for
dance is to
create music
that works in
counterpoint
with or even
against the
dance rather
than in a
purely supportive role

Screenshot 2: Samples

working with a musician as a collaborator rather than a servant. And if a


teacher is locked in to the idea of hearing a piano in their class there is little
chance that I will ever be able to make
them happy. I have decided to accept
this as a limitation of my practice.
I believe openness to difficult,
troublesome, or unfamiliar music can be
good for both the teacher and the students, and I am happy to be an ambassador for this cause. The possibilities of
the computer make for a great set of
wrenches to throw in the conventional
works. Conversely, the computer is well
suited to creating extremely minimal,
simple, regular textures (drones, loops)
that provide open-ended atmosphere for
subtle situations. With some work, Ive
been

against the dance rather than in a purely


supportive role, and I find that the laptop is an ideal tool for applying this approach to the class situation. (This is not
to say that I come into a class with a
completely antagonistic attitude towards
supporting the dance material more literally or propelling the energy of the
class with rhythmic drive. I do these
things too.)
True, this works better for some
teachers rather than others. My approach is best suited to situations where
it is possible to develop a relationship
with the teacher over time. Beyond that,
I wouldnt generalize about whether my
style of accompaniment is appropriate
for a certain genre of dance. The success
has more to do with the openmindedness
of
the teacher to

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I believe openness to difficult,


troublesome, or
unfamiliar music
can be good for
both the teacher
and the student...

Screenshot 3: Loops

able to find enough varieties of flexible


rhythmic options that fill the common
supportive roles well, too.

Chris Peck is a Michigan-born composer


who lives in Brooklyn, NY where he
composes for many current choreographers. He has accompanied dance
classes at American Dance Festival, University of Michigan, the Joffrey Midwest
Workshop, and studios around New York
City.
http://www.intermittentmusic.com

You can hear examples of some of


the sounds described in this article
on the CD enclosed with this journal. (The CD list is found on the
last page.)

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CD to Accompany the Journal Music and Dance


1. Babz 120 BPM in 4/4
2. Hop 120 BPM in 4/4
3. Static Stretch 92BPM in 4/4
1, 2, 3, created and performed by Neil Dunn

2:15
1:55
6:03

4. IGMID 1 Looped Harmonica/ Scat Overdub 84 BPM in 2/4


5. IGMID 2 Little Band Jazz 123 BPM in 4/4
6. IGMID 3 How We Fly Keith Fleming & John Osburn* 104 BPM in 4/4
7. IGMID 4 Adagio for Pizzicato Strings and English Horns 73 BPM in 4/4
4, 5, 6, 7, created and performed by Keith Fleming with John Osburn*

2:43
3:22
3:56
5:00

8. A Delerium Of Swallows 120 BPM in 2/4


9. Indigo Maria 120 BPM in 3/4
with Jeffrey Gaeto, keyboard flute
10. Jitter 133 BPM in 4/4
8, 9, 10, created and performed by Jon Scoville

4:03
4:16

11. george 120 BPM in 4/4


12. lost_in_your_eyes (unmetered)
13. takerslip 108 BPM in 4/4
11, 12, 13, created and performed by Chris Peck

3:06
4:24
3:06

14. Here it Comes 112 BPM in 3/4


15. All Four 120 BPM in 4/4
16. DuckSoup 76 BPM in 5/4
14, 15, 16, created and performed by Robert Kaplan

1:49
4:50
3:36

3:51

*John Osburn is a student and musician/apprentice of Keith Fleming in the Dance Department at Texas
Womans University. He is featured playing the drums and the Roland Handsonic HPD10.

This CD is made as a demonstration of the techniques discussed in the articles of the


journal Music and Dance. Each of the authors made three examples that show some of the
sounds and techniques that they discussed in their articles, with the idea that it would make
the technical discussions come alive musically.
We have put this CD together, as well, as a gift for dancers and dance teachers in the
dance community. The musicians who made these pieces have put them into the public domain for use in dance classes or dance performances free of charge. Acknowledging in class
the use of these pieces and their composers and the International Guild of Musicians in
Dance is appreciated. If these pieces are used in public performance kindly notify the composer and give proper credit in the program. Enjoy their use!

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