Music for Dance

The musical and dance time as a social time offered to the senses and directed at the affects

Music for Dance was the already fifth symposium of the European Voices, which are held in the framework of the Research Centre for Multipart Music (EMM), based at the Department for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology of the mdw since 2003.

Ursula Hemetek at the European Voices symposium

Multipart music has been a favoured object of research for a long time, particularly in a national context. Studies which extend beyond political boundaries were, however, rare and sporadic. Since, as a rule, the regional and political boundaries in Europe do not coincide, there was an almost untouched area for research. Therefore the establishment of an international network of specialists on the issue had become more than necessary.

Fifteen years after we have become many new insights connected both with the so called “musical outcome” as well as with the ways multipart music in Europe is made, perceived and dealt with by its different protagonists. The particular multi-sensorial and polysemic processes involved in making and perceiving this music are remarkable and lead to the necessity to puzzle out a complex set of strictly contextual codes. This is all the more so when considering that each moment of the musical time is also a social time offered to the senses and directed at the affects (Lortat-Jacob, ev2). Therefore discussions about roles, interaction, intervention and coordinated behaviour are taking up more and more space in the European Voices symposia.

Latvian delicacies
Latvian delicacies

Music for dance provides a specific area of research in this framework. It involves soundful and skilful bodies in action, with additionally exchange dynamics between the protagonists as well as between their “inner” and “outer” worlds at different stages of the performance. A vast field of exploration within the local practices in Europe opens up here: from pantomime dances to dance songs and music for dance performed in different situations and castings, with or without dancers. They were focused in the presentations and discussions of the symposium with the aim to explore the ways of interplay between the creators of music and dance and its impact on the ways in which values are shaped in this context.

The network is growing steadily with colleagues from western and eastern Europe, who come not only from different geographic areas but also from different research traditions. In this symposium music and dance from Norway became one of the emphasis. The keynote address as a lecture-demonstration by Egil Bakka and the wonderful evening with music and dance from Norway will stay for long time in the memory of all the participants.

Dance from Norway
Dance from Norway

I want to thank the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway for the support of this evening event. The venerable Haydn Hall of the mdw became this evening a dance hall in which also the public participated actively. In fact, the close cooperation with the performers is a key issue for the European Voices symposia.

In this symposium also music and dance traditions from Belarus were focused on for the first time through speeches by Tatjana Berkovich and Tatjana Konstantinova. One of the objectives of the EMM network is to include in the research and discussions step by step also internationally hardly known traditions in Europe.

Hardanger fiddle
The Hardanger fiddle is a traditional stringed instrument used to play Norwegian music

In addition to many other topics discussed and argued throughout the symposium (see the presentation of the first publication of the new series European Voices: Audiovisuals (eva) of our Department was of a special importance. An essential element of this series is the partnership with institutions in which EMM members are engaged. EMM members will present here unknown audio and video recordings of multipart music and dance practices, primarily from fieldwork, with comprehensive explanations drawn up in close cooperation with music and dance makers.

CD presentation
CD presentation & singing

The first publication is a double CD by Anda Beitāne with the title NOTES FROM LATVIA, Multipart music in the field ( During the presentation the participants could enjoy some recordings from the CD, some of the stories behind them as well as live performances by Liene Brence, Oskars Patjanko and Anda Beitāne. At this point I want to thank the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia and the ambassador Her Excellency, Mag.a Veronika Erte for making able the participation of the Latvian musicians. I want to thank as well the performers who have had in their laguages their instruments, many CDs and some regional drinks and culinary specialities from Latvia, given to them by the performers of the CD.


The Grand Finale of the symposium was the Hausball at the so called Bockkeller organised together with the Federal Committee for Austrian Folk Dance, whose chairperson Ing. Herbert Zotti and vice-chairperson Mag.a Else Schmidt I want to thank particularly for the cooperation. The musical performance was in the hands of the esteemed band Die Tanzgeiger led by Rudolf Pietsch. In this evening also the book Woher – Warum – Wohin? Zur Quellen- und Rezeptionsgeschichte der „Alten Tänze für junge Leute von Herbert Lager und Hilde Lager-Seidl“ by Nicola Benz was presented.

Photos: Hande Sağlam

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