Situated, embodied, distributed: interaction and cognition in the orchestra
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Katharine Louise Nancy Parton
The orchestral ensemble exists as a group of people who come together to prepare for public performance of music and has done so for several hundred years. In this thesis I examine the interactions which occur during this process in a current day professional orchestra. My focus is on analysing how members of the orchestra, the orchestral organisation and the conductor use their bodies, artefacts, time and space. My approach to examining these behaviours is informed by social interaction methodologies and theories of distributed cognition. Chapter 5 presents an ethnographic account of the construction of space and delineation of time for rehearsal. I examine how the City Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and their management use both space and time to prioritise and privilege the work of the orchestra. Chapter 6 focuses on conductor gestures and I use this analysis to argue that the gestures are complex with components occurring simultaneously as well as sequentially. I argue that conductor gesture creates its own context as it is deployed interactionally and is deeply embedded within social and cultural context. I use the theory of composite utterances to demonstrate that conductor gesture is more than a simple single sign per semantic unit. Chapter 7 considers how orchestral musicians organise their cognition within the physical and social environment of the rehearsal. I show that orchestral musicians distribute their cognition across their bodies, other interactants and culturally constructed artefacts. I further argue that understanding musician cognition in this way allows us to see that the very purpose of orchestral rehearsal is to transform the internal, individual cognition into the external and shared. Chapter 8 shifts the focus of analysis onto the talk-based interaction between conductor, concertmaster and other players within the rehearsal. I approach this talk using analysis which allows me to focus on the epistemic stance taking that occurs. I show that musicians are highly aware of sources of knowledge and knowing within the rehearsal process. I argue that musicians use their own bodies as sources of knowing and orient to them as important to the rehearsal interaction. Chapter 9 presents an ethnographic account of a CSO performance and considers the orchestra as a social situation. I argue that observability and monitoring occur across the social situation in both visual and aural modalities but that the access to others is asymmetrically constructed by the social roles of the orchestra. I focus on the first violin section using the leadership gestural actions as an example of this asymmetry. Chapter 10 discusses my analyses and proposes several novel contributions to existing research on how stance taking occurs in group interactions. This research is based on original fieldwork with an orchestra referred to by the pseudonym ‘City Symphony Orchestra’ (CSO) within this thesis.
KeywordsOrchestra; Conductor; Gesture; Epistemic stance; Evaluative stance; Affective stance; Stance-taking; Embodied interaction; Situated interaction; Situated looking; Embodied cognition; Distributed cognition; Musician interaction; Music gesture; Conductor gesture; Rehearsal; Concert; Performance
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