Musical connectivity in sitar and tabla pqerformance
The aim of this dissertation is to define and account for experiences of musical connectivity by exploring the relationship between joint musical action and social experience through a combination of ethnographic and empirical methods. Live sitar and tabla duo performance, in the Hindustānī tradition, forms the focus of the studies. Through its approach and scope, this research contributes to a broadening of knowledge and understanding of how people play music together, and experience varying feelings of ‘togetherness’ while doing so, from an interdisciplinary, non- Western perspective. The dissertation first considers the various musical and social concepts and behaviours that characterize Hindustānī performance. This is followed by an in-depth analysis of a commercial recording by master musicians Pt. Nikhil Banerjee and Zamir Ahmed Khan, in which the formal, rhythmic, and micro-temporal interactions are explored from a relational, socially-driven perspective. Lastly, qualitative and quantitative data collected through a case study carried out in Varanasi, India, involving close collaboration with expert informants Shyam Rastogi (sitar) and Sandeep Rao (tabla) together with the participation of five other local musicians are presented and discussed. Nine audio-visual performances were recorded, and performers were subsequently interviewed regarding aspects of their social experience whilst playing. Performances were then analysed in order to relate performers’ musical interactions with their self-reported feelings of sociality, both generally and at specific moments of their performance. These various results are used to support a novel model of musical connectivity, based on (i) ethnographic insight gathered through fieldwork, (ii) formal and informal interviews with numerous Indian musicians, and (iii) the author’s auto-ethnographic account of his practice as a sitar student. This model and the phenomenological insights that it presents are explored in detail in the concluding chapter.