From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Choreosonographies (choreosonography) is a term developed by Óscar Mascareñas from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, in the University of Limerick, to describe the investigation of the multiple possibilities of expression that dwell within the human body, including the exploration of musical 'sensuousness' and its relationship with the voice. From a sonic perspective, the choreosonographies may develop from playing within - and beyond - a frame posed by the structures of existing music, which is seen as an open system that permits the re-interpretation of seemingly fixed scores using alternative techniques of voice production and composition. Moreover, from both sonic and movement viewpoints, a choreosonography entails the making of collective compositions, in which the performers work on a continuous and never-ending exploration of sound, movement, force and emotion to create a choreosonographic score that is always re-worked/re-written in every performance, and thus never final or closed. In this regard, a choreosonography develops its own frame, where the creative impulse is a force that always already resists becoming form, becoming represented, even though - as Jacques Derrida suggests elsewhere - the representation of that force can only be done by re-presenting it, i.e., by presenting it again - as if for the first time.


The concept of choreosonography developed from Óscar Mascareñas' doctoral research on Gregorian chant. His thesis focused on the study of the quilisma and oriscus (two signs that so far have been understood as ornamental) in a set of particular Gregorian chant manuscripts dating from 10th and 11th centuries. Inspired by, and based on, some of the ideas/concepts of the eminent 20th-century philosopher Jacques Derrida, it aimed to challenge the premises of the comparative methodologies employed by Dom Eugène Cardine and his semiological school to study the meaning of the chant signs, as well as to challenge other very influential Gregorian chant theories that are based on the notion of formula and on concepts that are closely related to it – such as that of variant, identity, the oral and the written in chant transmission, and the concept of sign meaning. This was done by proposing a radical view that introduces a different way of interpreting the extant evidence, one that sees the chant manuscripts as an opening of re-presentation, where what they contain is no longer fixed (neither by the ink nor by an ultimate interpretative theory), but open to an active and continuous process of change and innovation.

Based on these ideas and concepts, Mascareñas started to experiment and apply them to the realm of voice and dance. The result is not (necessarily/not always necessarily) a work that shows the combination of one form and the other, but a work that emanates from a single impulse or force.


The first performance of a work that was actually identified with the term choreosonographies was premiered at a concert in the University of Bristol (within the Department of Music's Lunchtime Concert Series) on Friday 11 March 2011. It was performed by Óscar Mascareñas and Erika Charters. However, the concept can be applied to works that have been performed/prepared since 2008 as part of workshops, regular classes on improvisation and composition that include voice and dance - under the artistic supervision/direction of Óscar Mascareñas - which are taught in the BA Voice and Dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in the University of Limerick, in Ireland. Some of these works have included the re-reading/re-writing of traditional songs from Latin-America (Mexico, Colombia, Cuba), and the obvious expansion to/inclusion of the spatial/movement dimension which the concept of choreosonographies entails. It has also been applied to other works where the vocabulary of sound and movement is not based on a given frame or a particular style/genre. This is the case of most of the works that are being explored in the improvisation and composition workshops at the Academy.

Bibliography/Further reading[edit]

Barthes, Roland (1974). S/Z. New York: Hill and Wang.
Caputo, John D. (1997). Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. New York: Fordham University Press.
Cardine, Eugène (1982). Gregorian Semiology, Solesmes: Sable-sur-Sarthe
Derrida, Jacques (2006). ‘Force and Signification’, in Writing and Difference. London / New York: Routledge.
Derrida, Jacques (1978). ‘Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’, in Writing and Difference. London / New York: Routledge.
Derrida, Jacques (1981). ‘Plato’s Pharmacy', in Dissemination. London / New York: Continuum.
Lucy, Niall (2004). A Derrida Dictionary. Oxford: Blackwell.
Mascareñas, Óscar (2010). Exposing the Play in Gregorian Chant: The Manuscript as an Opening of Re-Presentation (PhD Thesis). University of Limerick. pp. 318.