Music plays a fascinating role in courting and flirting in human cultures. The power of music to enhance social cohesion, to stimulate people to synchronize their rhythms, to sway, to dance, to get into a trance, or indeed, to experience sexual excitement, has led to numerous different traditions of music and dance in the service of seduction or sexual education.
This book examines a wide range of such practices: from the dancing and singing of South Indian devadasis (ritual and royal courtesans) to the provocative dialogues exchanged between Chinese rural villagers; from the vigorous dance songs of prepubescent girls of the Baka (Cameroon) to the ‘bump and grind’ and serpentine movements of pole dancers in night clubs. And how did a composer like Mozart define the interplay of attraction and recoil in his operas?
Many aspects – from conventions of language to gestures, postures, smells and other sensual signals – appear to be unique for specific local traditions. Other features, such as the seductive qualities of the human voice or the appreciation of vocal musical dialogues as a ‘battle of wits’ clearly transcend cultural boundaries. The shared point of departure for the wide-ranging (musical, biological and anthropological) excursions in this volume is the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of music’s power to establish a sexual rapport. Does music – like sex – go deeper than culture ? A range of scholars from different disciplines set out to address these questions.