Submitted by Charlotte Wile - January 7, 2008
[Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, September 10, 2007. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.]
Present: Sandra Aberkalns, Tina Curran, Patty Delaney, Doris Green, Peggy Hackney, Deborah Friedes, Jen Garda, Mira Kim, Mei-Chen Lu, Lucy Venable, Charlotte Wile.
1. African Dance
2. Generic Accent sign
3. Generic Dynamic Signs
4. Phrasing indications
5. Kinesphere sign
Topic #1: African Dance
Doris elaborated on her method of notating African Dance (see the minutes for April 2007 and May 2007).
Doris gave Mei a copy of her score "Makwaya" so it could be placed in the DNB library.
Doris passed out an example of a “cue card” she gives her students, and three excerpts from The Beat of My Drum: An Autobiography, by Babtunde Olatunji, with Robert Atkinson.
In the notation, the Gankoqui (bell) shows the way the rhythm should be perceived. The group wondered if it would be helpful to put the Gankoqui staff on the right instead of the left side of the instrument notation. Alternately, the placement of the Labanotation and instrument notation could be switched. This way the notation of the bell would be next to the Labanotation. Doris did not think this would be a good idea because African music scores are read from left to right, and the present placement of the staves infers the importance of the Gankoqui in leading the dancers.
Peggy suggested placing a time line that corresponds to the Gankoqui to the right of Labanotation part of the score, as in Ex. 1a. Doris said this idea might work.
Charlotte feels there is a need for a generic accent sign.
The established accent signs indicate an amount of energy to be used. For instance, Ex. 2a indicates a slight accent, and Ex. 2b indicates a marked accent.
How could an accent with an unspecified amount of energy (slight or marked) be indicated? Several ideas were considered (Ex. 2c-j).
The group felt 2f would not work because it might connote “any slight accent.” Ex. 2d is also problematic because it might suggest an accent that is slight and then marked.
Should there be an ad lib. sign in the generic indication? Some generic signs contain the ad lib. sign, e.g., the signs for any flexion (Ex. 2k) and any direction (Ex. 2l). Some generic signs do not contain the ad lib. sign, e.g., any turn (Ex. 2m) and any body part (Ex. 2n).
Mira: If an ad lib. sign is used, how should it be drawn (e.g., horizontally or vertically)? What do the different drawings of the ad lib. sign mean in other symbols?
To answer this question, the group considered the meaning of ad lib. signs used with direction signs. A vertical ad lib. sign inside a direction sign refers to level of the direction, e.g., 2o indicates a forward direction, any level. Ex. 2p indicates any high level direction. Ex. 2q indicates “any direction.”
Using this precedence, the group felt that maybe the ad lib. sign should be drawn horizontally on the generic sign for “any accent.”
Everyone agreed that of the signs for “any accent” that have been suggested so far, 2j probably would work best. They remained open to further ideas.
Deborah: Why do we only have slight and marked accents? What about a medium amount?
The group thought 2c might be a way to show a medium accent.
Jen: Maybe there could be a whole family of generic signs. For instance, 2f could mean “any slight accent.” The group discussed how a sign for “any slight accent” might be interpreted.
Re: Terms. Sometimes 2a is called a “light accent” and 2b is called a “strong accent.” However, in Guest, Your Move (p. 290) the terms “slight” and “marked” are used. Peggy and Charlotte said they feel those terms are better because “light” and “strong” could connote Effort qualities.
Re: The definition of “accent.” In Guest, Labanotation, 4th edition (p. 425) it says, “When there is contact between two parts of the body or with an object, a strong accent produces sound, as in a stamp or clap. A slight accent, like a light tap with the foot, requires only slight additional energy beyond normal. Only a very slight sound is heard when a slight accent occurs with a contact.”
Charlotte wondered if that is always true. Isn’t it possible for body parts to make contact with an accent and not make a sound?
The group discussed whether accents need to be short in duration. [In Labanotation, 4th edition, p. 425 it says, “An accent is the result of a sudden momentary increase in the use of energy.” In Guest, Your Move, 1995, p. 290 it says, “An accent, a momentary stress (increase in energy), is familiar in movement, in speech and in music. A sharp rise in energy and a slight increase or decrease in speed, both of which disappear immediately, are easy to produce - the performer need not analyze exactly what ingredients are needed to produce an accent.”]
Some people in the group felt accents do not always need to be momentary. Sandra and Jen said that in Labanotation the accent sign’s meaning can vary. Its meaning becomes apparent when it is used in the context of a particular score. For instance, the accent sign might infer a strong quality that is not necessarily fast. Jen gave another example in which the hands come together relatively slowly and at the end make a sound (an accent).
Peggy differentiated between the idea of emphasis and accent. For instance, in Ex. 2r there is a change in the Effort loading that creates a middle emphasis in Increase-Decrease phrasing (see topic #4 below).
The drawing of the accent sign was discussed. It needs to drawn slightly tilted. Also, if it is drawn inside a phrasing indication, perhaps there should be a white space around the accent sign (i.e., the horizontal line would not be drawn over the accent sign) (Ex. 2s).
Sandra: It is interesting that the dark side of the sign is on the bottom, i.e., perhaps with “dark” corresponding gravity.
Peggy: Accent signs can also be used with phrasing bows, as in 2t. [See Peggy Hackney, Theory Bulletin Board, Phrasing Thread, October 6, 2000.]
Lucy drew a variation on this idea (Ex. 2u).
Tina said she is interested in developing generic signs for Ann Guest’s dynamic indications.
Ex 3a-d indicate Force (an amount of energy in relation to a muscular engagement/intensity). The signs depict dynamics relative to par, which is represented by the dashed line. Ex. 3a and 3b indicate an increase in Force. Ex. 3c and 3d indicate a decrease in Force. The shading of the circles in the signs shows an amount of Force. Thus Ex. 3a depicts a marked increase in Force, 3b depicts a slight increase in Force, 3c depicts a slight decrease in Force, and 3d depicts a marked decrease in Force.
As with slight and marked accent signs, these signs all specify an amount. Tina feels it would be useful to have Force signs that leave the amount open to interpretation.
Perhaps there could be three generic signs: any Force above par, any Force below par, and any Force either above or below par.
Various possibilities were suggested (Ex. 3e-3j).
The duration of the signs is indicated as in 3k.
Many people in the group were not familiar with the indication on the right in 2r above.
Charlotte said the sign belongs to a family of signs she, Peggy, and others have been experimenting with in the LMA community. The signs indicate Phrasing patterns, i.e., the increase, decrease, or maintaining of an aspect of movement.
Such patterns can be found in various movement componets, such as Effort, the number of body parts that move, tempo, or the size of the kinesphere (reach space). For instance, the Effort loading and/or intensity in a unit of movement(s) can increase, decrease, or remain constant. Likewise, the size of the one’s reach space might increase, decrease, or remain constant; the movement’s tempo might increase, decrease, or remain constant; and so forth.
Peggy and Charlotte discussed the patterns and their signs on the Theory Bulletin Board (see their various postings in the Phrasing Thread). Ex. 4a indicates a constant [Even] pattern, 4b indicates a Decrease pattern, and 4c indicates an Increase pattern. The signs can be combined to indicate other phrase types, such as the Increase-Decrease pattern in 4d.
Originaly, Charlotte thought the basic signs should represent just Effort patterns. However, she now agrees with Peggy’s idea that there should be a way to indicate patterns produced by other movement aspects as well.
Charlotte proposed that unmodified signs, such as 4a-d, could be the generic signs that stand for patterns produced by any movement aspect. The signs could be modified to indicate patterns by a specific movement componet. For example, an Effort action stroke could be used to specifiy Effort patterns, as in 4e. Ex. 4f would depict a unit (phrase) in which body part involvement increases and then decreases.
In other methods of indicating Phrasing [e.g., Vera Maletic’s system], the Increase and Decrease indications do not have a horizontal line. Why is there a horizontal line in the indications being discussed at this meeting? One reason it is needed in Motif Notation is so the reader will know that the decrease sign refers to Phrasing. Without the line the sign becomes a cancellation sign. For instance, Ex. 4g says move forward, then do a movement that has a Decrease pattern. Ex. 4h says move forward, then cancel the forward movement. [Addendum from Charlotte: Also, it makes it easier to combine the basic signs to indicate a variety of phrase types, as in the Decrease-Even Phrasing and Decrease-Increase Phrasing in 4i].
Topic 5: Kinesphere Sign
What sign could be used in phrasing indications to show kinesphere (reach space) patterns? Peggy suggested a circle with a “K,” which is sometimes used in the LMA community to depict a kinesphere. The sign is modified with a size sign, as in 5a.
Some people in the group felt 5a could be confusing, since the “K” also indicates folding over the right. On the other hand, since the “K” is in a circle, perhaps this is not a problem.
Other ideas for a kinesphere sign were discussed.
One idea is to use Ann Guest’s signs for “Spatially Central” (Ex. 5b) and “Spatially Peripheral (Ex. 5c),” which are derived from the sign for space (Ex. 5e). [Ann defined the meaning of the signs in her Theory Bulletin Board posting, November 6, 2006, Effort and Dynamics Thread: “For the individual performer, movement within the kinesphere is spatially central when it is in the area close to the body, the torso. Imagine a vertical column around the upright torso, a column within which the spatially central movements take place. In the upward direction, movement beyond the head would be emerging in the peripheral area. Peripheral space is at or near the extremity of the kinesphere.”]
It has been suggested that Ex. 5d could be added to Ann’s signs to indicate the middle of the kinesphere (middle-reach space).
Charlotte: To indicate kinesphere variables, the open circle could contain signs for size. Ex. 5g could depict a small Kinesphpere, 5h a medium Kinesphere, 5i a large kinesphere, and 5j any size Kinesphpere.
The “any size” sign in 5j is taken from the sign for any altitude. (See the altitude discussion in the April 2007 minutes).
Peggy: Maybe the sign for “any Kinesphere” could be Ex. 5k.
Of the signs discussed at the meeting, the group liked the idea of using a partial circle containing a size sign best.
Application of the signs was discussed. Ex. 5l shows a kinesphere sign used with a phrasing indication, i.e., movement in which the size of reach space gets larger and then smaller. [Addendum from Charlotte: Ex. 5m shows the reach space is consistantly small]. In 5n the reach space becomes larger during the indicated actions.
The kinesphere signs might be also be written without a phrasing indication.
Since the kinesphere signs being discussed are fixed in length, how could their time value be extended?
Ex. 5o would not work in Motif Notation because it could be interpreted as a fast movement in near reach followed by a separate unspecified movement. Other suggenstions that might work are shown in 5p-5s.
The signs in 5q and 5r follow the precedence for extending the time value of flexion/extension signs (Ex. 5t,u).
Patty: In 5u there needs to be a real connection between the action (represented by the action stroke) and the flexion. There was some disagreement in the group about what this connection needs to be. What movement would qualify as a single movement that could be interpreted as Ex. 5u? What movement might be seen as a movement with a separate flexing action at the end? Perhaps the latter might be indicated as in 5v [or 5w – suggested by Charlotte as an addendum].
Tina: Perhaps the signs for “any action” and “an appropriate action” could be used in some way to indicate the distinctions being discussed, e.g., as in Ex. 5x and 5y.
There is a difference between “doing movement in which the body changes its reach space,” and “keeping the body in a given reach space while doing a movement.” For instance, in Ex. 5z the body moves (changes) to near reach space, then it stays in the near reach space while it turns.
Peggy: Ex. 5aa-cc are other signs that represent movement in relation to the kinesphere. [These are “Approach to Kinesphere” signs. See Peggy Hackney, Making Connections, page 223. See also these Theory Bulletin Board postings in the Space Harmony and Choreutics Thread: Richard Haisma, October 17, 2005; Richard Haisma et. al, July 21, 2006; Jerrad Roberts, August 17, 2007; Jeffrey Longstaff et al., August 21, 2007.]