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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Friday Lecture: Gesture in Indian Vocal Music

Gesture in Indian Vocal Music

by Matt Rahaim

Friday, December 3
Ferguson Hall, Room 280
3:30 pm
Free and open to the public.

Observers of Indian classical music have long commented on the extensive, ubiquitous, near-constant gestural performance of Indian vocalists. Twentieth-century music critics have usually dismissed the gestures of musicians as extra-musical theatrics. In actuality, however, this disciplined motion embodies a special kind of musical knowledge, one that implicitly theorizes melody as motion, that constructs melodic objects, and that is transmitted tacitly through vocal lineages. The transmission of this knowledge through gesture results in lineages of vocalists who not only sound similar, but who engage with music kinesthetically according to similar melodic models and ethical ideals. On the other hand, the musicking body of any individual singer is idiosyncratic and personal, and embodies a musical ethos through both conscious choice and unconscious inheritance. This talk will explore the implications of gestural performance for melodic theory, pedagogy, and theories of the musicking body.

Matt Rahaim is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at UMN. He is a scholar and longtime student of Hindustani vocal music.

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