Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance
UPDATE: Dr. Roholt not only thanked myself and Dancecult for my review on Twitter (Nov.17th), he also called it “thought provoking,” and liked this post! It is a major honour sir, thank you very very very very very very very much!
In case you are interested in drums and rhythm, my review of Tiger C. Roholt’s brilliant book on “grooves” is now up on DANCECULT (Vol. 7, No. 2), an online academic journal covering electronic dance music culture. The book is a brilliant deconstruction of how one can understand certain types of music through the body, and not through formal analysis and measurement. In particular, what makes it brilliant is not only its accessibility for both general readers and academics, but its sparing use of philosophical theory.
Academic books on such topics as musical feeling and emotion are most often dry and theory heavy, using difficult mixes of Existential and Phenomenological philosophy to prove excellent, yet impractical understandings of the more subjective aspects of musical reception and feeling. But Roholt not only finds the perfect academic balance between formal thought and musical feeling, but comes up with a simple idea/solution that is perfectly stated and instantly useful, an idea that will no doubt (hopefully) spark much study and debate after him. It is a book that musicians of all sorts and deeply thoughtful philosophers of Phenomenology will equally enjoy.
As for Dr. Roholt himself, he is the Chair of Montclair State’s Department of Philosophy, and teaches Philosophies of Art, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Existentialism, Social-Political Philosophy, and Introduction to Philosophy, among other things. Here is a sneak peek of the review:
“A fundamental expression of Zen Buddhist theology, attributed to founding Patriarch Bodhidharma, states that a true understanding of enlightenment lays in a “special transmission outside the Scriptures” (Jap: kyôge betsuden), unwritten and unreasoned—inexpressible knowledge passed down the lineage. And though Tiger C. Roholt’s Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance is decidedly non-theological, it makes a vigorous and compelling case for its own kind of special transmission outside of the “scriptures” of Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological writings…”