Rock Music and Dance: Classical and Socrates

Throughout the book of Rock commentaries (to be found in the menu on the homepage) I wonder about the strange question of Rock music and dance. Dance disappeared from music when Rock came, and there was no dance music from about 1965 through till about 1976, except for Reggae and Funk, which is a bit different from Rock. We note in Chapter One that air guitar seemed to be the bodily motion that goes with Rock, and remember how awkward it was in High School trying to dance to Led Zeppelin.

Well today, as I was singing Kashmir and dancing to Santana out in the shed, and doing some involuntary air guitar to Ziggy Stardust, it occurred to me how that thing about Rock is not because of the influence of Jazz, but rather reminds me of the way the my old professor would air-conduct Mozart etc. Classical music too is not dance music, except when it is designed for like those French ballroom dances that developed out of the Italian ballroom dances of the late Middle ages.

And then of course the whole Question quickly reminds me of Socrates. The very famous passage from Xenophon’s Symposium (II. 19) is roughly as follows:

Socrates: Or will you not see the same necessity then, that Charmedes caught me dancing early in the morning?

Yes, by God, said Charmides; and I was out of speech, and did not know if you were mad. But when I heard you say what you say now…

Charmedes then relates that he does not dance, but went home and practiced his shadowboxing, and if he was smart, some wrestling as well to keep his body and his art balanced, rather than developing only arms or legs. He was practicing only gymnastics and not music. The Socratic method of dance combines the two, moving the whole body, and that too is what I do, making adults speechless, but making Children laugh. You see, children are often not at a loss for the proper response by nature, and so are often much more fun to dance before than speechless and humorless adults.

Imagine if Socrates had our recorded music at the touch of a button, and his own electric shed!

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