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The analysis of movement to music often stems from examinations of video-recorded events. This allows the analyst an opportunity to re-watch, pause, and slow down the movements of their participants, and to produce descriptive notation that appears alongside a score (e.g., Roeder and Tenzer 2012). Unlike prescriptive forms of dance notation (e.g., Laban 1928), such transcriptions of movement often illuminate metrical connections between music and movement. However, when video-recording is not permissible, other methods of movement analysis must be developed. This paper pilots a new technique for rigorous analysis of the interaction between movement and music, which may be used in ritual settings with no video-recording. By trying to embody worshippers’ movements in relation to the sonic environment—by moving as my participants move—I unearth not only differences between participants, but also an experience of the muscles and space required to complete individual movements. As the movements must be felt and experienced in “real-time” before being transcribed, I gain a different understanding of movement practices. Through a discussion of these mimetic observations and corresponding interviews in Chicago-based Jewish and Greek Orthodox communities, I explore the types of rhythmic-movement analyses that can be created from unrecorded (live) ethnographic data, focusing specifically on issues of metrical entrainment between body and voice. By classifying movement components and types, I distinguish between participants who make similar physical movements and those who move in metrically similar ways. Moreover, by noting not only when the physical emphasis matches with the vocal emphasis in a line of chant, but also how that physical emphasis is created, a deeper-level analysis is unearthed.


This is the final version of the article originally published in Analytical Approaches to World Music, Volume 7, No. 2 (2019), available here.