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  • Jamie McCarthy

An Example of Sound / Music in A Dance-Making Process.

13th April 2016.


'I Live In It' (With Sue Mayo, Chuck Lowry and Magic Me).


(An inter-generational dance piece for older women and girls / young women from a school in East London).


I always find it a bit mysterious how the sound / music I make for a piece of dance forms itself. A lot of the early stages consist of me making things and then waiting for those things to make connections with other bits of sound or with movement and thus finding their place in a piece. In the case of ‘I Live In It’ I had some free time before the project officially started and I decided to spend some of it making a library of musical materials that I could bring in to rehearsal. I didn’t know what the rehearsal process would turn out to be like yet and I figured so much of what we made and how the making process would unfold would depend upon the people who took part, so I just launched out on making bits of sound with the idea of gratitude to our bodies kind of hanging around in the air somewhere in the hope that it would make me gravitate towards sounds that fit the project.

Having a pre-prepared ‘library’ of potential sound material for a project means that from the very start I can try things alongside movement games or devising exercises and get a feel for what kind of sounds will fit this particular group of people and the movement material they’re coming up with. I can always go away and change the sound or make new sounds to suit the project more if I need to, but having sound that might form part of the piece there from the beginning also means that the sound can influence the development of the movement as well, affecting how the sound gets shaped and moulded. As the project evolves I think this happens some of the time in a form of sound / movement osmosis rather than things being too consciously chosen - I like the way this seems to give a feel in performance of the sound and the movement being quite organically linked. It means too, that the people dancing alongside the sounds I make become accustomed to the kinds of music and sounds I compose quite early on in the process, rather than just being presented in the last few rehearsals with something that might be quite different from what they were (perhaps unconsciously) expecting. Similarly it means that the people making and dancing in the piece and I come to know and trust each other more than if I simply turned up from time to time and then presented a sound score towards the end. It’s difficult really to prove it, but I do have a feeling when I work in this way that there is a greater sense of connection between the sound, the movement and the people who are dancing it.

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