Contemporary Music for Ancient Dance: Ethno/musicolgoical?
Tony Yap is a leading Australian contemporary dance performer who grew up in Malaysia. From mid-2002 he has collaborated with designer/dramaturg Michael Pearce and Musicians/Composers Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey in an Arts Research project, funded by Arts Victoria, investigating the Taoist trance tradition of his childhood in Malaysia. The resulting translation from a traditional religious practice into contemporary performance has allowed a unique ‘devotional’ form to emerge. The paper will report on the relationship that has emerged between the dancer and the musicians during the process. This relationship showed itself during performances as a shifting pattern that phased between convergence, parallelism and independence. The relationship formalised into patterns of cross-modal dissonance and consonance between the dancer and the musicians. Two techniques were prominent in the process. The first technique – firstly, the distillation of sound objects within a framework that merged music with visual design, and secondly, the technique of ‘dynamic immersion’. The first technique combined the ‘traditional’ aesthetic of elemental sound instruments with a contemporary ‘western’ performance setting. The second technique was realised through the acute and dynamic tuning of the acoustic space. The limited realisation of dynamic immersion created a surface of sound that was flexible and responsive to the dancers’ actions. The immersive environment not only responded to the dancer but also acted on him.
Symposium of the International Musicological Society
Musicology and Ethnomusicology