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Rhythm: A personal act of 'knowing'

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Jenny Zhao.

Moving well with someone has an aesthetic and ethical quality, be it to shake hands, dance, make music, or have a wonderful conversation. This foregrounds the relational qualities inherent in music, such as rhythm and pitch. It is proposed that pragmatic collective rhythm acts can enable us to simultaneously comprehend and engage with our differences, in ‘a personal act of knowing’. Mutual sense-making may be said to be carried by this very fine timing / synchrony that differs from the kind of continuous and stable synchrony seen in most laboratory experiments, seeming to be fragmentary whilst imbued with purpose to sustain and facilitate. In embodied improvisation, we come to know when we can change or reject the synchrony or pattern that we have found with someone without producing negative emotional or social/artistic effects. This shift is desirable, for example, for a jazz musician to find their own way distinct from a jazz master. A picture of pragmatic salient prosodic rhythms leading to climaxes (crescendos) of entrainment may be a way of considering how we are able to improvise whilst being together. Salient moments of bodily synchrony perhaps carry within them an intention to rebuild the connection even though it is mutually understood and desirable that a break of some kind is necessary for the connection to be sustained and to evolve.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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