I created a choreographic study that reflected the research I collected on how pitch and rhythm influence the movements of musicians while they play.
Musicality is often an important aspect of choreographic works, and I hoped to further investigate the relationship between movement and music with this study. By researching how pitch and rhythm inform a musician’s movements, I developed a new movement vocabulary and advanced my understanding of musicality through observation of musicians in performance.
A few weeks ago, I attended the OSU Jazz Jam in the Ohio Union and collected footage of the Bobby Floyd Trio for an hour. The band included Bobby Floyd (organ), Derrick DiCenzo (electric bass), and Reggie Jackson (drums).
During the performance, I wrote all observations pertaining to the movement qualities of the musicians. I answered questions about how musicians respond to their rhythm and pitch. Some of these questions included: How do musicians respond when playing fast complex rhythms vs. slow swingy music? Do they heighten when they play high notes; how about low notes? Do multiple musicians react to the music in a similar manner, even if they are playing different instruments?
From this footage, I selected a single piece they performed and chose sixteen to eighteen measures of each musician’s improvised solo.
The next part of my process was likely the most beneficial to my growth as a musical dancer and essential to the success of my project: I recorded on paper and memorized the rhythmic score of each improvisation. Although I am not a musician, I found that I could decipher the rhythmic and general pitch quality of the improvisations in a manner that allowed me to write the information down measure by measure. I included the small amount of musical notation (quarter notes, half notes, etc.) I knew and some tap-dance language (one-ee-and-ah-two-ee…). Next to the rhythmic data, I wrote general pitch notes (high, low, scale) and notes about the movements of the musician playing in accordance to the pitch and rhythm. Although this written data, by no means, could possibly make sense to anyone else, it allowed me to fully study the three variables I was considering in an overall conclusive way. I also believe this active translation was valuable in developing a stronger relationship between myself and music.
Finally, I created a movement composition study for each improvisation and recorded it. I did my best to create movement that reflected the movements of the musicians, but also explored how I could express the variations in pitch and rhythm through my movement.
Below is my final product: