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  • Sounding the Dance, Moving the Music: Choreomusicological Perspectives on Maritime Southeast Asian Performing Arts ed. by Mohd Anis Md Nor and Kendra Stepputat
  • Mayco A. Santaella (bio)
Sounding the Dance, Moving the Music: Choreomusicological Perspectives on Maritime Southeast Asian Performing Arts. Edited by Mohd Anis Md Nor and Kendra Stepputat. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. SOAS Musicology Series. xvi + 193 pp., illustrations, figures, charts, bibliography, index. ISBN: 9781472469236 (hardcover), $165.00; ISBN: 9780367229436 (paperback), $49.95; ISBN: 9781315609959 (e-book), $28.98.

Sounding the Dance, Moving the Music presents a new discourse on (ethno-) choreomusicology through a music-dance interconnectivity analysis that views both sound and movement systems as single emic structures in maritime Southeast Asia. The implied, and sometimes included, prefix ethno- recognizes antecedent "choreomusical conversations" (Jordan 2011) in American and European performance analyses while simultaneously proposing a look at the music-dance scholarship of non-Western traditions. The choreomusicology discourse emerged, at least conceptually, with Paul Hodgins's (1991) examination of music and dance connections. His book introduced a practical "paradigm for choreomusical analysis" (Hodgins 1992, 25) based on an earlier published paradigm of extrinsic and intrinsic relationships as an analytical tool (Hodgins 1991) to examine the connection between score and choreography in twentieth-century works such as Martha Graham's Errand into the Maze (1947) and George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky's Agon (1957). The latter piece and its music-dance relationship have been further scrutinized in subsequent studies (Jordan 1993; Yang 2005). Inger Damsholt's (1999) dissertation looked at music-dance relationships and put forward a choreomusicological discourse that expanded Hodgins's (1992) work through an analysis of audiovisual relationships, the body, and the "site of meaning or signification" (Damsholt 1999, 125) that the music-dance relationship produces. The following year, Stephanie Jordan's Moving Music (2000) broadened this discourse by looking at earlier studied works such as Balanchine's, introducing new audiovisual analytical paradigms including those presented in the chapter "Hearing the Dance, Watching the Music" (63). Later studies continued to expand on earlier investigations (Damsholt 2006; Jordan 2007; Jordan 2011), the outcomes of which are recorded in publications such as Bennett's Proceedings of Sound Moves (2005) and The Opera Quarterly's special issue highlighting the Sound Moves Conference and choreomusical studies (Morrison and Jordan 2006).

The analysis of music and dance and their interconnectivity in Southeast Asian traditions, although limited, has received some attention in late twentieth-century publications. For the study of improvisation within the Javanese dance drama wayang wong, Susilo (1987) discussed cultural constraints guided by the interrelationship of sonic, oral, and visual communication [End Page 145] through speech, story, gamelan, singing, and movement as influenced by an encompassing dramatic structure. In his study of zapin in Malaysia, Mohd Anis (1993) focused on the performer and the development of Malay variants of the form—from differing styles to commercial and contemporary productions. The analysis of the zapin performance itself accommodates both sonic and movement features and lays the foundation for the study of its newer categorizations as music and dance within the performing arts. A general shift of analytical studies from textual (composition, improvisation, and performance) to contextual (ethnicity, race, nationalism, gender, globalization, and so on) in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century scholarship might have diverted analytical studies of music and dance interconnectivities. Despite this, the recent impetus toward rethinking performance analyses of music and dance has begun to balance theoretical approaches and reconsider conceptualizations of sound and movement practice.

Spiller's (2010) study of Sundanese music and dance introduced the discussion of interconnectivities through the analysis of movement creation to specific drum accompaniment as well as of the rhythmically informed development of new movement motifs to which drummers generate concomitant rhythmic patterns. Mason's publications resumed and expanded analytical studies of sound and movement as a unitary phenomenon, or Gesamtkunstwerk, through the discipline of choreomusicology by revisiting historical relationships in music and dance scholarship and applying these theoretical approaches to non-Western traditions such as tari piring (plate dance) among the Minangkabau in West Sumatra, Indonesia (2012, 2014).

Sounding the Dance, Moving the Music, a seminal publication for (ethno-) choreomusicology studies and their application in maritime...


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