Journal of Movement Arts Literacy Archive (2013-2019)

Author Credentials

Doris Green, US State Department Cultural Specialist to Ghana. Creator of Greenotation percussion notation system, Fulbright Scholar


African dances are among the oldest dance traditions in existence; their structure is uniquely different because the movement therein is inseparable from the music that governs the movements. The music is associated with the spoken language of the people, which makes it virtually impossible for outsiders to comprehend the music of different African countries. In Africa there is no dance that is not accompanied by some form of music from the voice to orchestras of different percussive instruments. For centuries the dance/music of African people has been passed between generations by a mouth to ear process. Any society that is entirely dependent upon oral communication to transfer their culture between generations is doomed to failure because of the breakdown of the human memory and outside interpretation. The best way to rectify this dilemma is to provide written documentation for these dances. Because the dances are inseparable from the music, I have dedicated my life to creating written documentation for the music that parallels Labanotation, a system for writing movement. This system is called Greenotation, after me its creator. In this manner not only can the music and dances throughout Africa can be preserved, and given perpetuity, but also comprehensive thesis and dissertation can now be written whereas previously, this could not be accomplished because African dance/music lacked a written format.


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