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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Laura Leante

Clayton, Martin & Leante, Laura (2015). Role, status and hierarchy in the performance of North Indian classical music. Ethnomusicology Forum 24(3): 414-442.

Author(s) from Durham


In this article we describe and interpret the interactions that take place between participants in performances of North Indian classical music. Since this music is shaped largely in the moment of performance, its success depends on felicitous interactions between participants, so understanding these interactions is key to understanding the musical tradition. Aspects of these interactions we consider here include the roles assumed by participants and their complementarity; the various hierarchies that exist amongst participants and are related to those roles; the expression of authority and deference; and the causes and results of conflict in performance. Although some of these issues have been noted in previous academic literature, they have not previously been subjected to a sustained and wide-ranging enquiry that draws extensively on first-person accounts of performing musicians. The theoretical orientation of our interpretation owes most to the classic sociological work of Erving Goffman, with reference to the particular ways in which authority, social hierarchy and deference are understood in South Asia.