Rhythmokinetic Prosody is a term coined by Thomas Talawa Prestø to explain the link between movement qualities and sound qualities in Africana Dance (African and African Diaspora). Prosody is the study of the various qualities of rhythm and sound in speech, including pitch, stress, rhythm, tempo, volume, tone, inflection, and duration. In Africana drumming and rhythm, these qualities are closely linked to the prosody of speech. The way in which the drum is played and the rhythms that are created are based on the rhythms of speech and language, which in turn are based on these prosodic qualities.
As an extension of this, the movement qualities in Africana Dance are also closely linked to prosody. Movement qualities such as tone, pressure, and inflection are based on the same prosodic qualities found in speech and language. For this reason, instructors within African-rooted aesthetic forms and forms with African retentions, such as hip hop, krump, salsa, reggae, dancehall, rumba, and house, often prefer to sound out rhythm through prosodic use of the voice. This allows for a better communication of the movement and rhythmic qualities, and how they interact with one another, rather than relying solely on the counting of 8ths, which only partially captures the nuances of Africana Dance.
The qualities of prosody are crucial to the understanding and building of African and African Diaspora rhythms. The pitch, stress, rhythm, tempo, volume, tone, inflection, and duration of sound are all elements that inform the creation of rhythm. In Africana rhythms, the drum is seen as an extension of the voice and is used to mimic and communicate the prosodic qualities found in speech. The use of prosody in Africana drumming and rhythm is not simply a matter of aesthetics but is deeply rooted in the cultural and historical context of these practices.
Rhythmokinetic Prosody is a portmanteau word based on the words Rhythm, Movement, and Kinetic. It is a term also coined by Thomas Talawa Prestø to point to the kinetics (physics) of rhythmic corporeal movement. The use of Rhythmokinetic Prosody in pedagogy involves a deep understanding of the cultural and historical context of Africana Dance, as well as an appreciation of the embodied nature of rhythm and movement. By using prosodic qualities to communicate rhythm and movement, instructors are able to more fully capture the nuances and complexities of these practices, and help students to develop a deeper understanding and connection to the music and culture.
The qualities of prosody are:
- Pitch – the perceived highness or lowness of a sound
- Stress – the emphasis placed on a syllable or word in speech
- Rhythm – the arrangement of sounds and silences in time
- Tempo – the speed or pace of a musical or spoken passage
- Volume – the loudness or softness of a sound
- Tone – the quality of a sound that distinguishes it from others of the same pitch and volume
- Inflection – the variation of pitch or tone in speech
- Duration – the length of time a sound or silence lasts.
RHYTHMOKINETIC PROSODIC SOUNDING.
Then it comes to polyrhythmic structures and a polycentric approach to movement, counting eights can be limiting and flatten the multidimensionality of the movement material. This is especially true in forms based on Africana retentions, where Western teaching pedagogy may not always be the best fit. It’s important to acknowledge the intelligence and sophistication of the African practices that are at the root of these genres, and to respect the nuances and complexities that come with them.
In light of this, it’s essential to reach for pedagogical practices that are more attuned to the specificities of these genres, such as Rhythmokinetic Prosodic Sounding. This approach recognizes that movement qualities and sound qualities are deeply interconnected and cannot be fully conveyed through the mere counting of beats. Instead, it emphasizes the ability to convey complex information about movement quality, direction, pressure, tempo, size, volume, inflection, stress, and sharpness of movement through the prosodic use of the voice.
Through this approach, students are better able to grasp the nuances of the movement material and embody it in a more authentic and meaningful way. It also allows for a deeper appreciation of the cultural context and history of these genres, as well as a greater respect for the intelligence and sophistication of Africana practices.
Some of the ways in which movement qualities and sound qualities relate to each other in Rhythmokinetic Prosodic Sounding include:
|Sound Qualities||Movement Qualities||Relationship|
|Pitch||Height or depth of movement||The highness or lowness of a sound can be related to the degree of extension in the limbs or the vertical displacement of the body.|
|Stress||Level of force or intensity||The emphasis placed on a sound or movement can be related to the amount of force or intensity used in the movement.|
|Rhythm||Timing and flow||The pattern of beats and rests in a sound or movement sequence can be related to the timing and flow of movement.|
|Tempo||Pace and energy||The speed at which a sound or movement occurs can be related to the pace and energy of movement.|
|Volume||Size or amplitude||The loudness or softness of a sound can be related to the size or amplitude of movement.|
|Tone||Texture or quality||The quality or character of a sound can be related to the texture or quality of movement.|
|Inflection||Dynamic quality or shape||The variation in pitch or tone in a sound or movement can be related to the dynamic quality or shape of movement.|
|Duration||Length or sustain||The length of time a sound or movement occurs can be related to the length or sustain of movement.|