Investigating Periodic Body Motions as a Tacit Reference Structure in Norwegian Telespringar Performance

Mari Romarheim Haugen


The pulse level in music is often described as a series of isochronous beats that provides an underlying reference structure against which we perceive rhythmic patterns. This notion is challenged by music styles that seem to feature an underlying reference structure that consists of beats of uneven duration, such as certain traditional Scandinavian dance music genres in so-called asymmetrical meter. This study investigates periodic body motion as a reference structure in a specific style of traditional Norwegian dance music called telespringar. The intimate relationship between music and motion is often highlighted in rhythm studies of telespringar, so this study encompasses both sound and motion analyses. It is based on a motion capture study of three telespringar performers; one fiddler and two dancers. Motion analysis of the fiddler's foot stamping indicates a stable long–medium–short duration pattern at beat level. Motion analysis of the dancers' vertical motion of the hips revealed a periodic pattern in synchrony with the beat duration pattern determined by the fiddler's foot stamping. This result implies that the underlying rhythmic structures in telespringar depend upon a shared and embodied knowledge of the underlying asymmetrical reference structure that is implicit in the production and perception of telespringar.


Telespringar; motion capture; dance; rhythm; asymmetrical meter

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