Trance, Music and Dance – Old topics and new interdisciplinary dialogues

  • Dunja Njaradi
music, trance, dance, neurosciences, kinesthesia, affect


The paper deals with the issue of trance in anthropology, ethnomusicology and dance studies through the problem of the role of music and dance in achieving a trance state. The paper focuses on two important studies of trance. The first among them is the study Music and Trance by French ethnomusicologist Gilbert Rouget. In this study, Rouget examines the connection between trance and certain music and dance practices by discussing the key question: do certain musical instruments necessarily lead to trance? The second study represents the recent work of an ethnomusicologist Judith Becker, called Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion and Trancing, in which Becker explores the synergy between music, emotion, and trance in an intercultural context. Although these two studies have a lot in common with each other, the key difference would be Becker's reliance on recent research in psychology and neuroscience, that led to new research approaches to music and dance. Therefore, although Becker relies on Rouget's pioneering study, almost twenty years of the difference between these studies has led to recent dialogues between anthropological and culturalist approaches on the one hand and psychological and biological research on the other. The paper will present contemporary outcomes of these debates in anthropology through recent approaches to ritual, in dance studies through the question of kinesthesia, in ethnomusicology through the affect theory, and interdisciplinary interactions between them as well.


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