University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Dancing the Violent Body of Sound

Fourier’s formula is omnipresent in the sciences. In acoustics, it describes how a complex sound wave is composed from a spectrum of sinoidal overtones. However, the formula is very difficult to understand. In our project, for the first time ever, we unveil its mystery and communicate it to the public by means of a traditional Indonesian dance.

Fourier’s formula is unwrapped and embodied in a dance-choreography. Nothing is hidden anymore: The rotating dancers represent the overtones. The configuration of dancers moves similar to the solar system with the sun, planets and moons. Faithful to the formula, this dance creates embodied knowledge—ordered access to information for everybody.

Electronic position and movement trackers transmit the dance to a computer system. The corresponding complex sounds are generated in real time. This dance is a real body of musical sound production. In order to give the audience an experience how the embodiment works, the artistic choreography has three “police dancers”, which act violently on the “overtone dancers” and thusly distort the corresponding musical sounds. This dramatic interaction creates the consciousness of how important it is to respect the creative knowledge of the body in society.

Guerino Mazzola (Music/Interdisciplinary Program in Collaborative Arts), Principal Investigator
Co-PIs: William Messing (Mathematics) and Rachmi Diyah Larasati (Theatre Arts and Dance)

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