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Thursday, July 04, 2013

If you happen to see a parade this Independence Day weekend, you might be spending some time watching large numbers of people, walking in step. As WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells us, there’s a particular synergy that comes from many people doing the same thing.

There’s something powerful about multiples in unison, all across the arts. A chorus, orchestra or dance troupe 'synching up' can be magical --whether you’re on the inside of one of them or just watching.

The 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing is a recent example of unison movement that many found awe-inspiring. Held at the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed "The Bird’s Nest" for its webbed metallic structure, the ceremony featured more than 15,000 performers, many of whom operated in unison throughout the ceremony.  

Other examples of unison movement:

The Rockettes

A Chorus Line

The UCLA marching band's famous 'Script' configuration

In Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet

Playlist for Unison

  • The Rockettes: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree; Sony Music JK85112
  • Greek Chorus:  Sophocles, Oedipus the King; Naxos NA217712
  • Ballet Music:  Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 3 (Claudio Abbado, Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Sony SK45939
  • Gregorian Chant:  Hymnus (VIII); Philips 432089-2 
  • Verdi Requiem, “Agnus Dei” Fleming, Borodina, Bocelli, D’Arcangelo; Valery Gergiev; Philips 468-079
  • Bach Concerto no. 1 in D Minor; Andrei Gavrilov, Neville Marriner; EMI 5-651732
  • Oscar Peterson, The London Concert; (I Get Along Without You Very Well); Pablo 2PACD-2620-111-2
  • Beethoven Symphony Number 5 in C Minor; Leonard Bernstein, NY Philharmonic; Sony SXK47645

WNYC Production Credits...

Executive Producer: Sara Fishko
Associate Producer: Laura Mayer
Mix Engineer: Paul Schneider and George Wellington
Managing Editor, WNYC News: Karen Frillmann

Produced by:

Sara Fishko
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
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Comments [1]

You might be interested in a paper called "The Universal Symptom" by Hellmuth Kaiser. He explored the fascinating and uncanny effect he experienced in watching the unison movements of performers at a show, leading to the formulation that people generally, in many different ways, strive to maintain a fantasy of oneness with others.

Love all your work, Sara. Thank you.

Joel Silbert

Jul. 04 2013 05:28 PM

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