Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Organization Logo Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society


Meaning in Body Movement and its Interface with Music

06.03.2021 02:00 PM – 06.03.2021 03:30 PM

Event Summary

Image: Sheetal Saini via Flickr

Recent years have witnessed the application of formal linguistic methodology to objects of study that transcend language, such as music and visual representation. At their intersection, this talk addressed potentially meaningful body movements in two different domains, narrative dance and music accompanying body movement. Based on a series of recently conducted experimental studies, we found the following: (i) the narrative dance form Bharatanatyam (a South Indian classical dance) utilizes movements and positions in space to convey meaning, which may incorporate expressions that we find in language (such as reference tracking through designated positions in space); (ii) when spontaneous body movement is produced in response to music, abstract meaning that is communicated by the body movement seems to inherit properties of abstract meaning communicated by the music, which indicates a shared origin of meaning in such music-movement pairs.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language at the University of Chicago.