Combat-dancing, cultural transmission, and choreomusicology: the globalization of embodied repertoires of sound and movement

Paul Mason

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In the context of globalization, humanly organized expressive systems are sustained by translocal communities of practitioners. A proficient Argentinian tango dancer, for example, is able to join a milonga in Berlin, Tokyo, or London and confidently dance with an unfamiliar partner. Uniform translocal practices are not a given. Globalization is disruptive, and the transnational flow of practitioners can challenge the coherency and formal properties of a humanly organized expressive system. What allows an embodied repertoire to maintain its integrity as it spreads globally? Are there particular intrinsic features that predispose an expressive system to going global? This chapter draws upon the study of the relationship between music and dance, a field called choreomusicology (Hodgins, 1992; Jordan, 1994; Mason, 2012), to analyze the cultural transmission of three distinct performance genres of combat-dancing as case examples of humanly organized expression: Silek Minang from West Sumatra, Pencak Silat Seni from West Java, and Capoeira from Northeast Brazil. In performances of combat-dancing, percussive and melodic music-making combine with systematized repertoires of interactive body movements to form holistic gestural complexes. Turning to recent developments in the global distribution of these three genres of combat-dancing, this chapter explores three features of humanly organized expressive systems: (1) autotelism, the self-sustaining capacity of an art; (2) degeneracy, the synergistic correspondences between music and movement; and (3) choreutic cognition, the improvised or choreographed basis of the art.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction
EditorsMicheline Lesaffre, Pieter-Jan Maes, Marc Leman
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781315621364
ISBN (Print)9781138657403
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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