Fascinating rhythm: syncopating New York’s streetplan

Symonds, Dominic (2009) Fascinating rhythm: syncopating New York’s streetplan. In: Song, Stage and Screen IV: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Musical Stage, 3 - 5 December 2009, University of Maryland, USA.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Manhattan’s grid system was originally conceived in the Plan of 1811, transforming the island into a geometrically defined space for urban expansion, and establishing the groundwork for New York to develop as an immigration point, a population centre, and an economic capital. Cutting a crude diagonal across this grid system is, perhaps, the most iconic street in the world; and Broadway’s confidece on the map seems appropriate to a street that is synonymous with the theatre. It is proud, brash and cocky, like the stage folk of popular accounts; it is defiant, quirky and at odds with the rest of the city, like the industry that has made such a success of Broadway. Meanwhile, Broadway has promoted these characteristics in its most potent product, popular song – its theatricality; its economics; its individuality; its fusion of immigrant cultures.
This paper will explore the relationship between Broadway and its songs, using Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of stratification, and considering not only the lyrics but also the music and performance. Just as Broadway cuts across the structure of the grid, the syncopation of Broadway Rhythm cuts across the regular metric beat, and the idiosyncracies of performance cut across the expectations of genre convention.

Keywords:Performance Cartography, New York, Broadway, Deleuze and Guattari, Syncopation, Song
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W310 Musicianship/Performance studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:22453
Deposited On:09 Mar 2016 14:41

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