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Moving Ideas

Multimodality and Embodied Learning in Communities and Schools


Edited By Mira-Lisa Katz

What does it look and feel like to communicate, create, compose, comprehend, teach, and learn with our bodies? Reaching beyond existing scholarship on multimodality and literacies, Moving Ideas expands our capacity to understand the embodied dimensions of learning and stretches our repertoires for more artfully describing them. Wresting language away from its historically privileged place at the center of social science research and practice, this collection examines the strategic layering across semiotic modes, challenging educators and researchers to revisit many of our most elemental assumptions about communication, learning, and development. The corporeal pedagogies these authors describe illuminate a powerful kind of learning that we know far too little about; in this age of accountability and high-stakes testing, failing to pay adequate attention to the promise of multimodality means forfeiting significant resources that could be used to innovatively engage people of all ages in education broadly conceived.
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10. The Paramparic Body: Gestural Transmission in Indian Music




The Paramparic Body

Gestural Transmission in Indian Music1


I am singing at a house concert in California. It is my first performance away from my teacher, and I try to sing as he has taught me. I deliberately choose music that we spent many months working on. Even as I improvise novel melodic material, I recall his repeated admonitions about proper singing: each chunk of melodic action should be well-knit as though it were carefully composed ahead of time; the voice should be clear and open; melodic development should be gradual and methodical. Restraining myself from dashing forward into rapid melodic flights, I will myself to relax my shoulders, take deep breaths, and dwell in a medium-tempo melodic flow, even past the point where my attention wanders. Even when I make a mistake and want to hide my voice behind closed vowels, I remember his relaxed, open voice. All of these small pieces of advice during my training were brought together in a single discipline by my teacher’s presence. Singing far away from him, I sometimes recall them one by one; it’s easier, however, to simply remember his presence.

One of the guests, a longtime student of Hindustani music, approaches me after I finish. “You sing differently now,” she says. I ask her what she means. “You never used to do this,” she says, looking at her hands, tracing interlocking ellipses with her open palms. The...

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