Interaction in Indian music: Connections and critical reflection

Diljeet Bhachu, Alexander Cooper, Nikki Moran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter discusses musical interaction in jointly improvised instrumental Raga performances by sitar and tabla duos. One among a number of Anglophone scholars to have justified a topical focus on this musical performance context specifically for its prominently interactive character, Moran argues that interaction in instrumental duo performances ‘is seen to depend on the manifestation and maintenance of the relationships between participants’ (2013, 5). In what follows, we report the methods and findings of research by Cooper (2018; 2019) which extends this claim through analytical attention to both the musical interactions (in terms of both formal and microtiming aspects of performance), and the first-person experiences underlying such relationships. The two main analytical goals of this research are as follows: (i) to provide a rigorous and detailed phenomenological description of the experiential patterns that commonly underlie joint music-making in this genre, especially when deemed highly cohesive, enjoyable and meaningful by the performers themselves; and (ii) to account for how these experiences are shaped through musical performance interaction. The aims of our chapter extend beyond our report and discussion of these music-analytical findings. Following their presentation, we offer critical contextualisation of this project and others like it. We examine the influence of Indian art music on the academic imagination of the Global North, and explore reasons why the embodiment focus of empirical projects such as this might have come to be facilitated by the historical and colonial relationship of ‘Indian music and the West’ (Farrell, 1997). Finally, we ask of ourselves whether such work can ever be critically-aware enough in its methods to justify or truly corroborate the findings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusical Interaction
EditorsMichaelson Garrett, Chris Stover
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


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