Volume 9 (2023)
“Interactions Between Music and Dance in Two Musical Theatre Tap Breaks”
Rachel Short (Shenandoah University)
Volume 9.3 (May 2023)
How do sounds made by dancers interact with rhythmic sounds in the music? When does the relationship between them change? Like music, dance has patterns, or “groupings,” that we can hear and see, particularly in tap dance, where the dancer’s feet intentionally create rhythmic sounds. Typically, choreography involves rhythmic groups that directly correspond to musical rhythms. But sometimes, movement patterns are at odds with musical patterns—non-alignments caused through metric displacement, groups with conflicting sizes, or asymmetrical patterns. The rhythmic complexity of these conflicts between music and dance can increase energy, and changing relationships between music and dance patterns can mark distinct sections. This video explores examples from two Broadway-style tap dance breaks (“I’ve Got Rhythm,” from Crazy for You, and the finale of Billy Elliot Live) to show how dancers’ on-stage movements and rhythmic tap sounds combine with musical rhythms and phrases to generate momentum and delineate formal structure.
Keywords: rhythm, choreography, metric dissonance, Broadway, tap dance
Christine Boone (University of North Carolina, Asheville)
Volume 9.2 (March 2023)
This video essay describes a type of viral remix where someone takes a well-known song and alters it with a pre-defined process, or, an algorithm. I have called these tracks algorithmic remixes, and identify three sub-types. The first is the semi-algorithmic remix, where a human creator is necessary to apply an algorithm to a song effectively; for instance, there is a version of “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles where every pitch has been transposed to either an E or an F. The second type is the fully-algorithmic remix, where an algorithm could be applied to any song, and would produce the exact same result without a human creator making artistic decisions. An example is taking the song “Africa” by Toto and remixing it so that all of the lyrics are in alphabetical order. Finally, a song-specific algorithmic remix is based on a process that was designed for a specific song, and would not necessarily have the same effect on any song. For example, “Hey Ya!” by Outkast has been remixed so that the tempo gets faster every time André 3000 sings the words, “uh,” or, “alright.” These remixes serve to exaggerate a particular feature of a song, and can reveal something about that song through humor and irony.
Keywords: Remix, meme, viral, YouTube
“We are dancing, We are flying”: The Feeling of Flight in Dance Scenes from Recent Popular Film
Chelsea Oden (Adams State University)
Volume 9.1 (January 2023)
Flight is a popular visual metaphor in partner dance scenes, but what about these scenes evokes the feeling of flight? This video examines four partner dance scenes from recent popular film to explore how musical meter and timbre can cause even the most visually grounded dance to feel airborne. Drawing on theories of embodiment, I show how these scenes use triple and compound meters to create a sense of weightlessness through lilt and a sense of timelessness through lyric time. From a timbral perspective, I propose three sound envelopes—sparkling, lyrical, and buoyant—that reference embodied experiences to evoke starry skies, gliding flight paths, and a playful push and pull against gravity. Together, I argue, timbre and meter in partner dance scenes can sweep us off our feet, making tangible the famous words of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Prince and Cinderella: “We are dancing, We are flying.”
Keywords: Music Theory, Timbre, Meter, Film Music, Dance, Flight