12 Études for clarinetist dancer

One of my on-going projects has been the composition of “12 Études for clarinetist dancer.” In the tradition of musical studies designed for the musician to improve his/her skills in a precise domain, each piece will actualize a different approach in terms of:

  • musical composition technique
  • choreographic style
  • relation between music and dance
  • proportion of written and improvised elements
  • notation

Here is the (provisional) May 2007 version of my plan for these 12 studies:

12 etudes clarinet dance

I cleaned-up this plan to include it in my final presentation for a course I took in the Spring of 2007:

Jean-Francois Charles dance clarinet may 2007

Music and Movement

Tomie Hahn is a singular artist. I quote the bio on her sweet website:

Tomie Hahn is a performer and ethnologist whose activities span a wide range of topics including: Japanese traditional performing arts, Monster Truck rallies, issues of identity and creative expression of multiracial individuals, and relationships of technology and culture; interactive dance/movement performance; and gestural control and extended human/computer interface in the performing arts.

In the Spring of 2007, she was a visiting professor at Harvard University and I took her course "Performing Body, Media, Identity". The course was very engaging, and the group of students was great. We were an active ensemble of undergrad and grad students, from anthropologists to ethnomusicologists, with a composer.

The best point was the unique blend of scholarly research and performance that Tomie managed to make an integrate part of the class. From assignments to the final project, both traditional scholar work and embodied performance-based presentations were expected. That has been the basis for lively and enriching exchanges between all the students.

Tomie took the picture above during my final presentation. I was performing a preview of the study Weight.

Check out her recent book: Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance.

During the class, I wrote a paper on existing compositions for dancing musicians. Have you ever heard of dancing musicians, singing dancers, or dancers playing instruments while dancing, in any area and cultural context? Leave a comment, I would love to discuss about it!

Next week, I will bring to you the video of Ballade, an étude that I performed for the first time in May 2008.


  1. Jean-Francois: Have you seen any of the Drum Corps shows? (http://www.dci.org/) They're not strictly dancing since they come out of the marching band tradition, but some of the more advanced moves that the better corps engage in can be pretty close. When I participated in similar groups, we did some dance training in order to get better at some of the more intricate leg motions.

  2. Yes, this whole tradition is fascinating. I didn't know about the DCI, but I heard of the FAMU Marching 100 ( http://www.famu.edu/index.cfm?a=marching100 )
    As far as I know, there is no such tradition in France / Europe. Last year, I read an interesting article: "The FAMU Marching 100" by Jacqui Malone (1990).


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