Saturday, July 16, 2016

Rhythmic Modulation

Exploring the phenomenon of timeline modulation was the theme this week's Solares. There are a number of forms it takes, so the definition of modulation in this workshop was:
"when the rhythm of one timeline is allowed to influence the rhythm another"
There were two rhythms at play,
  1. the standard unaccented embodiment rhythm (atiempo timeline); and
  2. the vocalised open ("gung-gung") and slap ("pak") tones of the tumbao moderno (contratiempo timeline).

Warm-up: Recap of Previous Content
Solo, without music. Caribbean sway basic. Begin with "gung-gung" vocalisation (beats 4,4+). Add embodiment rhythm (beats 1,2,3). Add "pak" vocalisation (beat 2).

Solo, with music. As above.

Observation Practice
Two participants were selected to demonstrate modulation. One had naturally allowed the "pak" vocalisation to modulate her embodiment rhythm, evidenced by a stronger, accented second step. Another, although performing the "pak" vocalisation, had naturally maintained three unaccented steps.

Exercise One
Solo, without music. Caribbean sway basic, then walking. Begin with "gung-gung" vocalisation (beats 4,4+). Add embodiment rhythm (beats 1,2,3). Add "pak" vocalisation (beat 2). Allow the "pak" vocalisation to 'colour' to the second step.
Learning point: "let the pak from your throat flow through your feet"

Exercise Two
Solo, with music, As exercise one.

Learning Concept
Participants were first encouraged to explore modulation as present (accented) or absent (unaccented). Then they were encouraged to explore it quantitatively as 'colouration' (i.e. modulation) using the metaphor of a volume control dial: zero being unaccented, ten being as accented as possible, then arbitrary values in-between e.g. five, three, seven.

Exercise Three
As exercise two. Application of learning concept. Participants were asked to determine which 'colour' dial setting was most appropriate for the music track being played.

Exercise Four
As exercise three, but partnered.

At this point, participants' quality of execution encountered a downturn. As the addition of a partner was the single additional parameter, I surmised that the challenge lay in the mutual negotiation of an appropriate modulation level. This was verified through questioning the workshop participants. Reading this - the negotiation of each individuals idea of appropriate modulation in a partnership - as being one variable too far, I determined to continue with the principle of the exercise but adapted to make it achievable.

Exercise Five
Partnered, to music. Caribbean sway basic. Tumbao moderno "gung-gung, pak" vocalisation.
I called out a number indicating modulation level (on a scale of 0-10) and each participant was to interpret it at individual level, and then negotiate it at partnership level.

The initial exercises were met with varying success. This may have been due to either: a lack of skill in the execution; or a lack of understanding, given that modulation was a new concept. Both were equally likely.

Modulation is dependent upon the quality and strength of both signals: the embodied timeline and the vocalised timeline. If one signal timeline (in this case the vocalised one) fades in and out, and is temporally unstable, then the effect of modulation cannot be consistent.

Towards the end of the session (during exercise five) participants' dance rhythms were showing increasing signs of being affected by the "pak" accent, indicating that early-session low success was due to a lack of familiarity with the concept.

The introduction of additional structure through removal of one parameter (i.e. my setting of modulation level) suggests that more structured intermediate exercises might attenuate the steepness of the learning curve.

The indications are that a re-running of the content with additional support and fewer variables i.e.:
  1. externally set modulation levels;
  2. emphasis on individual exercises; and
  3. defined spatial configurations;
would provide an intermediate range of practice for the development of the skill of modulation.

Yeo Loo Yen

No comments:

Post a Comment