Music ETDs


Sabine Wilden

Publication Date



What is the relationship between music and dance? Specifically, when choreographers interpret music with movement, what in the music are they responding to? When faced with ambiguities in the music, such as conflicting meters, how do choreographers choose which paths to pursue? With the aim of addressing these questions, fourteen professional choreographers from Europe, Brazil, and the United States were recruited to participate in a survey. This included a) general questions about how they use music when choreographing, and b) specific questions concerning four short musical tracks taken from the second movement of Maurice Ravels String Quartet in F Major. Regarding the general questions, responses revealed that choreographers have very different approaches to incorporating music in their working methods. Nevertheless, regarding the specific questions, answers showed striking consistency in how individual musical passages would be interpreted. In a second, exploratory study, aimed at achieving ecological validity, five student choreographers (undergraduate and graduate students at the University of New Mexico) were asked to create and perform a solo dance to the complete second movement of Ravel's String Quartet. These performances were videotaped, and each video was analyzed (somewhat following Hodgins, 1992) for rhythmic, dynamic, textural, structural, and articulative qualities. The music was then analyzed along similar dimensions, and the results were compared. Musically ambiguous passages (e.g. those with conflicting meters) were of special interest, as they demonstrate the variety of interpretations that choreographers have, and presumably that listeners do too.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Music

First Committee Member (Chair)

Hinterbichler, Karl

Second Committee Member

Pyle, Pamela

Third Committee Member

Repar, Patrice

Fourth Committee Member

Bashwiner, David




Music and dance, Choreography

Document Type