Gesture and the Sonic Event in Karnatak Music


  • Lara Pearson



gesture, South Indian music, shape, movement


This paper presents an analysis of the relationship between gesture and music in the context of a Karnatak vocal lesson recorded in Tamil Nadu, South India in September 2011. The study aims to examine instances of correspondence between gesture and sonic event that occur during the lesson. Through this analysis the paper aims to contribute to the wider debate on the factors that determine gesture. Shape and trajectory are used in this study as means of describing and comparing gestures. The teacher’s hand movements are tracked and traced rendering the gestures as static shapes in still images, and developing lines in moving images. The correspondences found between gestures and sonic features are discussed in relation to the physical movement required to produce the music. In addition, the circumstances in which correspondence is not found are analyzed and the extent to which the dynamic form of gesture is also influenced by the phrase as a whole is emphasized.