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The Aural Setting

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The Aural Setting
There are many types of accompaniment
(aural setting) that a choreographer can use
in their work.
Sound (natural/found)
пЃµ With no sound a dance must
be strong and clear having it’s
own rhythm and form.
пЃµ Silence can add to the theme
of a dance creating the feel of
solitude and emptiness
пЃµ Moments of silence can add
пЃµ It may also highlight moments
of great importance.
Swan Song Christopher Bruce
section 5 – second solo uses
It emphasises the changes of
speed in the movement
Generates the atmosphere of a
bleak prison cell.
Highlights the dramatic impact
of the prisoners situation by the
imagery of the prop (chair).
Can hear the sound of dancers
movements and the chair
Allows the dancer to improvise
and feel the mood of the dance
This may be in the form of words
(prose, poetry, lyrics or just words
that make no sense or that are
Human sounds such as crying or
laughter have also been used.
The accents and type of sound
can blend smoothly or be in
contrast to the movement.
John Betjeman’s poems form the
structure of Late Flowering Lust by
Matthew Bourne
Poem is read and the words
add to the rhythm and the
In musicals dancers often sing
at the same time i.e. in Cats.
Kenneth Macmillan captures the
broad theme of the poem rather
than depicting each word.
Sound (natural/found)
In Christopher Bruce’s �Swansong’
(1987) the idea of interrogation of
a political prisoner in a South
American jail is cleverly brought to
life. The interrogators and prisoner
tap the question and answers.
Claps and finger clicks are also
used to heighten the intensity of
the interrogation.
He also uses the sounds of birds
(makes us think of a trapped bird
in a cage, like the prisoner in the
cell. and pots and pans which are
Some dances rely on sounds as
part of the accompaniment tap,
flamenco, folk, Morris dance etc.
Tapping and stamping in SS used
as interrogation and question and
answer. Morris dance used in
Penguin CafГ©.
In �Cross Channel’ by Lea
Anderson the sound of the
train station and ferry in transit
add naturally to the theme of
the journey.
Sounds from nature such as
wind, railways, bird, crowds
are often used.
In site specific works the
sound found can become the
Sounds made by the dancers
themselves as in tap, Indian
and Flamenco can enhance
the rhythmical experience for
the audience.
Different methods can be used
when we use music with
Dance and music composed
Dance created and music
composed for it
Compose music first and then
choreograph in response to
A dance idea found and music
composed or found to fit
Music and dance separate
In Front Line by Henri
Oguike the music is
played live on stage with
the dancers.
The most common form of accompaniment is music. It is important for
the choreographer to have a good understanding of music and terms
related to it in order to describe what it is that they require, whether it
be a rhythm, a structure, a mood or a particular tempo.
Rhythm – the basic pattern of sound and silence
Accent – increased stress on a beat
Up beat – the weaker beats
Down Beat – the stronger beats
Time signature – The number that tells you how many beats per bar
Tempo – is the speed of the beat. This can change throughout the
piece of music and thus change the intensity and the dynamics.
Ostinato – music idea (phrase, which repeats itself throughout and
can be varied and developed, like a dance motif).
Music/Dance relationships
Music Visualisation
The music controls the movement, style, mood, rhythm, dynamics and
length of the dance – George Balanchine said : �Hear the dance, see the
An example of this would be: Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne. The music
already existed (composed by Tchikovsky) and Bourne created the
movement to fit exactly. The music controlled the movement. A good
example of this is when the swans dance on the lake the movements match
the rhythm, speed and phrasing of the music.
Also in Birdsong because the dancers respond directly to the sound in the
music – particularly in the section Birdsong where the jumpy, jerky sounds
and sudden pauses are shown in the way the dancer moves.
Direct correlation
Music and dance work together. In traditional ballets such as Swan lake,
Tchaikovsky composed the music to fit directly with each action. Swan song
– music created for the dance.
An example of this would be: Swan Song by Christopher Bruce. He worked
with composer Phillip Chambon to create the right rhythms and sounds from
the dance. When the music is slow and sad the dancing is also continuous
and flowing to match, like in the section when he dances alone. When the
music is fast and strong the dance also becomes more dynamic, like in the
section when they manipulate him.
Mutual co -existence
Music used as a backdrop to the dance and help create the
desired atmosphere, they do not rely on each other but do
share some similarities.
An example would be: Late Flowering Lust where the music
is used as a back drop and helps to create the right
atmosphere. For example in the golf scene the music is fun
and light hearted to create the comic feel to the dance.
Dance is developed without the music and then the music is
put in afterwards, sometimes the dancers only hear the
music during their first performance. Musical and dance are
totally separate, deliberately goes against the dance.
An example of this would be:
Professional Dance works
Professional work
Music/ composer
Andy Pink
Siobhan Davies
sounds that are digitally
effects, silent pauses
Late Flowering Lust
Matthew Bourne
Swansong (1987)
Christopher Bruce
Swan Lake (1995)
Matthew Bourne
Classical orchestra – full
symphony orchestra
Still life at the Penguin
cafГ© (1988)
David Bintley
Simon Jeffes
(spoken word)
Natural sound
Ensemble -PCO
Brass band and other
natural and found sound,
voice and narration
Phillip Chambon
Found sound, natural
sounds – bird cries and
pots and pans
Still Life at the Penguin Café – by
David Bintley
The accompaniment …
Shows dance idea – the music for the final
character the �Brazilian Woolly Monkey is very
energetic this helps to create the carnival
atmosphere which portrays the idea of the
Brazilian carnival – this acts as a finale to the
Shows location – where the dance is set –
which country. The Southern Cape Zebra
dances to African drumming, indicating the
Zebras habitat.
Shows the character- The music in PC helps to
define the sections – it changes with each new
section and introduces the animal that dances. It
highlights the characteristics of the animal for
example the Texan Kangaroo Rat music is lively
and bouncy and upbeat (ho- down style)– he
dances in the same way and it show he is a
carefree, playful and happy character.
Music visualisation – dance is choreographed to
the existing piece of music the movements fir
every bit of the movement perfectly – they are
Orchestral ensemble - smaller group range of
Swan Song
Direct correlation
Silence can create an atmosphere
Silence can be a highlight
Found sound/Digitally manipulated sound
Music shows dance style
Natural sound can create an atmosphere
Body percussion can add to the atmosphere
Still Life at a Penguin CafГ©
Direct correlation
Music highlight location of dance
Music tells you about character
Music supports the theme
Music gives the dance a structure
Late Flowering Lust
Mutual – co-existence
Natural sound can suggest the location
Natural sound can add realism
Narration can set the scene /help audience understand
Narration can form the structure of the dance
Music creates mood
Swan Lake
Music visualisation
Music gives a structure to the dance
Music controls the dynamics of the dance
Music shows character traits
Music creates mood/atmosphere
Musical visualisation
Music sets the structure of the dance
Digitally manipulated sound
Natural and found sound can be used to create the movement and
Silence can be used to add interest/create a highlight
Silence can make you focus on the movement
Silence can allow the dancers to improvise
Silence can create contrasts
Accompaniment is a key theme in the dance
Types of music
Pop, R and B, Garage, Hip Hop, rap
Soul, jazz, blue
Romantic, renaissance, baroque
Country and Western, Folk
Orchestra – large symphony orchestra every range of instruments, large
groups – string, woodwind, brass, percussion etc Ballets usually use this.
Ensemble – small groups of instruments, Penguin café uses ensembles
The PCO was an ensemble that played orchestral music
Big Band- Jazz band, brass band some of Late Flowering Lust
Groups – rock and pop groups e.g. Rooster by Christopher Bruce used music
by the Rolling Stones.
National/ethnic – pan pipes used in Ghost Dances by Christopher Bruce
Folk/country – Used in penguin Café by David Bintley
Digitally manipulated – Swan Song and Bird song
Contributions to dance…. Music
can dictate..
The kind/type of dance
The dance idea
The mood atmosphere
The style (comical, lyrical)
The length of the dance,
The form -the organisation of sections, parts
The phrasing of the movement
Dynamics – highlights/climaxes
Introduce certain characters through use of motif
(Prince in Swan Lake)
10. Set scene – where it is taking place (Penguin Café)
Possible Questions!
�Birdsong’ uses digitally manipulated
recorded sounds for it accompaniment.
Write about another professional work that
uses a similar style of accompaniment. In
addition describe other musical
accompaniment of a different type that
have been used for dance. Refer to four
other dances.
Discuss the different types of
accompaniment that are used for dance.
Refer to four professional dance works
other than Birdsong.
The nature of accompaniment for dance is
of great importance to a dance work.
Describe different musical
accompaniments and the effect that they
have (how they contribute) to the dance
work. Support your answer with reference
to four professional dance works other
than the set work.
Describe the ways in which accompaniment can
affect a dance (for example the length of piece).
Make reference to Birdsong and four other
Discuss the different relationships that dance
may have with its accompaniment, make
particular reference to Birdsong and four other
professional works.
A choreographer must make a range of
decisions when selecting the accompaniment for
a work. Outline what decisions have to be made
and why, refer to Birdsong and four other pieces.
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