Hip Deep June 14, 2018
The Nature of Trance

In many communities throughout Africa and the diaspora, music and spiritual life are deeply connected through the experience of trance: ritual possession by ancestors, spirits, deities, or simply the trance of communal dancing—usually accompanied by hypnotic melodies and rhythms. In this program, we explore the phenomenon of trance through a survey of musical and spiritual traditions. We'll discover how different cultural and spiritual ideas are expressed musically, how the mathematical complexity of mbira dzavuzimu music may lead to Shona spirit possession, and how experiments in neural imaging give us insight into how the brain works in a state of trance.

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