Music, dance and the total art work: choreomusicology in theory and practice

Paul H. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Euro-American performance arts are exceptional among the world's cultures in that music and dance are separable and constitute independent disciplines. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, a distinct consciousness emerged that demonstrated an awareness of the varying and protean relationships that music and dance can share. While some artists were keen to develop their particular medium to its fullest potential, others were keen to group expressive mediums together into new wholes. These explorations were accompanied by a rapid but uneven expansion in audio, visual and audio-visual technology. As artistic practices evolved and technology developed, a range of possibilities were explored and the discipline of choreomusicology finally emerged. Choreomusicology is the study of the relationship between sound and movement within any performance genre. As a pedagogical tool, this article discusses key developments in the history of choreomusical theory and practice with a sympathetic selection of material using the words of artists and theoreticians. The evolving relationship between music and dance in any performance tradition is a socially situated process shaped by a range of historically constituted practices. The current discussion situates the artistic legacy inherited by contemporary Euro-American artists within a historical and cultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Dance Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Gesamtkunstwerk
  • music
  • dance
  • choreomusicology
  • composition
  • choreography


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