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Title: Effort in gestural interactions with imaginary objects in Hindustani Dhrupad vocal music
Author: Paschalidou, Panagiota-Styliani
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 1607
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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Physical effort has often been regarded as a key factor of expressivity in music performance. Nevertheless, systematic experimental approaches to the subject have been rare. In North Indian classical (Hindustani) vocal music, singers often engage with melodic ideas during improvisation by manipulating intangible, imaginary objects with their hands, such as through stretching, pulling, pushing, throwing etc. The above observation suggests that some patterns of change in acoustic features allude to interactions that real objects through their physical properties can afford. The present study reports on the exploration of the relationships between movement and sound by accounting for the physical effort that such interactions require in the Dhrupad genre of Hindustani vocal improvisation. The work follows a mixed methodological approach, combining qualitative and quantitative methods to analyse interviews, audio-visual material and movement data. Findings indicate that despite the flexibility in the way a Dhrupad vocalist might use his/her hands while singing, there is a certain degree of consistency by which performers associate effort levels with melody and types of gestural interactions with imaginary objects. However, different schemes of cross-modal associations are revealed for the vocalists analysed, that depend on the pitch space organisation of each particular melodic mode (rāga), the mechanical requirements of voice production, the macro-structure of the ālāp improvisation and morphological cross-domain analogies. Results further suggest that a good part of the variance in both physical effort and gesture type can be explained through a small set of sound and movement features. Based on the findings, I argue that gesturing in Dhrupad singing is guided by: the know-how of humans in interacting with and exerting effort on real objects of the environment, the movement–sound relationships transmitted from teacher to student in the oral music training context and the mechanical demands of vocalisation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available