Research Project

(starting in 2008)

Ali research project has been inspired by the encounter between Raffaella Galdi and Fabio Mina in 2008 and their mutual interest on each other’s genre. The flute player and composer Mina introduced Galdi to the philosophical ideas of Marius Schneider, a twentieth-century music scholar. Schneider’s studies on the idea of rhythm have been the starting point of Mina’s and Galdi´s collaboration and profoundly influenced the focus of the research. The musical and the physical exploration related to the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical rhythm patterns, as “artificial” and “natural” rhythm. In relation to this focus, the research explored the possible translation of social dynamics into a network of relations between the movement of human bodies, music and space. 


The research, divided in various working blocks, was conducted from November 2008 till June 2010. It has been supported by artblau Tanzwerkstatt Brauschweig and LaborGras Berlin. 

From the exploration conducted during this last two years Raffaella Galdi choreographed the dance performance Relations, commissioned by Theater Vorpommern for the TanZZeiT Festival 2010 and the dance-video Ufergang created in collaboration with the video maker Carlos Bustamante.



Carlos Bustamante, video and photo documentation

Viviana Defazio, dance

Raffaella Galdi, concept / dance

Elisabeth Stockinger, dance

Fabio Mina, live music, music composition

Reflections on Schneider´s ideas of rhythm

I am keeping a kind of diary in which I write down my observations on rhythm, referring to the environment we live in, from my personal living situation (home), to my experience in public places (walking in the street, public transportations, etc). From these observations I am developing a series of tasks with which I like to keep working in studio in collaboration with Fabio and the dancers. These tasks are experimental, meant to explore symmetrical and asymmetrical rhythm and also to perceive rhythm as qualitative and quantitative matter, in relation to human body (dance), sound (music), space and culture (society). (Raffaella Galdi, 2009)

Rhythm is a profound element in life. It is bound to who we are and what and where we belong to. It is in a way a true statement about ourselves. It is honestly representing our personality, as an individual, and our culture, as a group of people belonging to a society. My interest lies in the observation of society, bringing theoretical and philosophical ideas to a concrete and physical contest: dance and music. Speaking in terms of movement and human body, dance is an art form most present in our society and with it, rhythm is constantly visible, because it is shaping and reflecting our human condition. (Raffaella Galdi, 2009)


“The meaning of music” -  Marius Schneider (1951)

The musicologist Marius Schneider (1903-1982) considered rhythm as an unconscious phenomenon and therefore as an aspect of spiritual life. He believed that any “natural” activity (just as what he calls natural music) is not following an established order, a rigid schema. According to Schneider, the “natural rhythm” (asymmetrical rhythm) is a repetition, in which what is repeated is never exactly the same: only the essential, fundamental returns, in ever new forms. He defined what is “natural” as a “ritual”: a ritual perceived as a repetition of similarities. Using a 9/8 rhythm as an example, Schneider describes the essential difference between a symmetrical division of time (in which 9 is divided in 3 x 3) and an asymmetrical one (in which 9 is divided in 2 + 2 + 2 + 3). For him, the first division is schematic and mechanical but the second one is alive, because it marks a progression and an interlayer of pauses. He considers the “natural” division healthier, because it shakes and it is more elastic, while the succession of equal rhythm patterns limits us to a rigid structure.

Following Schneider, the symmetrical, so defined artificial rhythm, allows us to live in community: with a fixed pattern of agreements, we can co-ordinate daily human actions within a group, respecting a pre-set order in which each human being can function. The asymmetrical rhythm (the natural act) is then only present at an individual level, where each human being can live following his own needs, preferences and feelings.

Schneider states, that the quality of rhythm is also strongly influenced by space. Comparing the living situation within a big city, for example, or in a small village, he shows that each territory has its own characteristics and needs that have a definitive influence on the social rhythm (or more simply, the space – defined by the size of a flat or the house we live in). Aspects such as co-ordination (organisation, spontaneity) and environment (tolerance and diversity) are shaping each culture. The rhythm established by each modern society functions as a reflection of the culture itself.