Part of Vijay Iyer’s work discusses some of these same tropes that I am interested in pursuing. He draws links between the claim that perhaps music is meant to be moved to with the Anlo-Ewe culture of Ghana, West Africa.
What I want to address is the fact that sometimes in West African dance-drumming (the fact that the meaning of the word in Ewe is interchangeable between dance and the music only strengthens this argument of the different cultural approach of movement pertaining to music), one starts to move in order to recall the drum language, or rhythms that dictate those movements. In designing an experiment, would subjects be able to better remember rhythms depending on whether they learned movements alongside those same rhythms?
It is unusual in Western culture to learn rhythms based on movement, but what if we used a set of movements to help remember a rhythm, or even lyrics? We learn dance from melodies or in a counting manner (or learn concepts set to music), and I want to explore the other direction of that correlation; using movement to help trigger rhythmic recall. Subjects (without certain experience, dance, etc) would be given certain patterns to learn, accompanied by movements or alone- just the movements too- and then try to reproduce those rhythms, being allowed to move along with their attempts or not. Does this movement have to be synchronized with the beats, or dance at all? Do certain parts of the body elicit better ability of memorization? Would this method work best with polyrhythms, and only serve to confuse subjects struggling to learn movements along with a simple pattern?
Dalcroze eurhythmics is an example of possible applications of addressing these questions. While it does not answer any of them specifically, this method of teaching music to students using embodiment underlines the importance of kinesthetic movement reinforcing neural circuits involving memory, and gives us only more reason to want to fully understand its effectiveness.