CMD Löfgren – Mixing song and speech when proposing at opera rehearsals

Löfgren presented ‘Mixing song and speech when proposing at opera rehearsals’ at the Copenhagen Multimodality Day, 4 October, Copenhagen.

This paper explores the interplay between aesthetic performance and social interaction by targeting suggestion sequences at an opera rehearsal. Suggestions in this setting are mostly made by the director, who is ultimately responsible for the dramatic action on the scene. The current paper, however, looks at singer suggestions on how the embodied dramatic action should be coordinated with the music. The suggestions concern several aspects of the performance, and are formatted with multiple semiotic resources (Goodwin, 1999). The singers are shown to accomplish multimodal turn-constructional units involving speech, song and other kinds of embodied behavior. The data consists of 20 hours of video recorded scenic opera rehearsals in Swedish and English. While it has been argued that song in conversation needs to be disambiguated by, for instance, talk (Stevanovic & Frick, 2014), the present study will show how song and talk mutually elaborate each other within the evolving speaker turn. Furthermore, a shift from the temporal frame of talking to that of singing/performing will be shown to occur within the multimodal singer suggestions. In opera rehearsals, fragments of performance are constantly layered or interchanged with talk, in contrast to explicit transitions between the two in musical master classes, as detailed in Reed (2015). The analysis dissects the affordances of talk vs. song as semiotic resources in this multimodal practice.



Goodwin, C. (1999). Action and embodiment within situated human interaction. Journal of Pragmatics. 32:10, pp. 1489-1522

Reed, D. J., (2015). Relinquishing in musical masterclasses: Embodied action in interactional projects. Journal of Pragmatics, 89, pp. 31-49.

Stevanovic, M., Frick M. (2014). Singing in interaction.Social Semiotics, 24(4), ss. 495-513. doi: 10.1080/10350330.2014.929394



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