Löfgren: ECCA 2020: Song versus talk during depictions

Löfgren presented at the European Conference on Conversation Analysis, June 30, 2020: Song versus talk during depictions in proposal sequences at opera rehearsals – Intersubjectivity and vocal modality.


The aim of the present paper is to explore singing as a resource in singer proposals during
scenic opera rehearsals. It will be shown how singing within the proposal makes embodied
action available as dramatic action, and more specifically how it carries a zooming function
to finely coordinate body and music. Previous studies have targeted singing as a resource in interaction in different contexts, such as orchestra rehearsals, workplace meetings, music instruction and mundane interaction (Weeks, 1996; Stevanovic & Frick, 2014). In these studies, singing has been shown to reduce speaker agency and accountability, aid in the display of mutual solidarity, as well as illustrate something that has previously been said. The material of the present paper consists of 20 hours of video recorded scenic opera rehearsals, in English and Swedish. A scenic opera rehearsal is when the opera ensemble, led by the director, decide on the dramatic aspects of the performance on stage. The scenic opera rehearsal differs from previous settings where song as a resource in interaction has been studied, in that the focus is to coordinate embodied dramatic action with the predetermined temporality of the music. Although the quality of the music or the song per se is not targeted during these particular rehearsals, the participants sometimes use song from the libretto as a resource in the interaction, within the frame of multimodal depictions (Clark, 2016). Singing is shown to be one of the resources that can be deployed, within the depiction, to index performance time, making the simultaneous embodied behavior understandable as dramatic action within the opera performance. Whereas proposals without song in the depiction seems to refer to larger and less specific segments of actions, singing will be shown to carry the function of zooming in temporality-wise to finely coordinate body with music. With the aid of multimodal interaction analysis, the present study systematically explores verbal and embodied behavior in relation to depictions with and without song.

Clark, H. (2016) Depicting as a method of communication. Psychological Review, 123 (3)
Stevanovic, M., Frick M. (2014) Singing in interaction. Social Semiotics, 24 (4)
Weeks, P., (1996). A Reahearsal of a Beethoven Passage: An Analysis of Correction Talk.
Research on Language and Social Interaction, 29 (3)