Dr. Lara Pearson

Lara Pearson completed her doctorate on Karnatak (South Indian) music and gesture at the University of Durham under the supervision of Professor Martin Clayton and Dr Laura Leante. Lara’s research examines musical structure and pedagogic process from an embodied perspective, looking in particular at physical gesture in the contexts of musical performance and learning.

Drawing on her professional experience in film and video production, Lara makes extensive use of video as a means of collecting data and prompting discussion in interviews, as well as a medium through which to convey ethnography. Her film 'Alapana: Four Views of Movement in Carnatic Music' was shown at the Royal Anthropological Institute Festival of Ethnographic Film in 2013.

Research interests include South Indian music, gesture, embodied music cognition, improvisatory processes, free improvisation, music pedagogy, music and religion, intangible cultural heritage, and music aesthetics.

Lara was awarded the Martin Hatch Prize in 2014, given by the Society for Asian Music for most distinguished student paper on Asian music presented at the Society for Ethnomusicology annual meeting.


Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals

  • Pearson, L. (2016). Coarticulation and gesture: An analysis of melodic movement in South Indian raga performance. Music Analysis, 35(3), 280-313.
  • Pearson, L. (2013). Gesture and the sonic event in Karnatak music. Empirical Musicology Review, 8(1), 2-14.

Book Chapter

  • Pearson, L. (accepted). Preservation and innovation in South Indian art music. In B. Norton and N. Matsumoto (Eds.), Music as heritage: Historical and ethnographic perspectives. Aldershot: Ashgate

Book Review

  • Pearson, L. (2013). Matthew Rahaim (2012). Musicking bodies: Gesture and voice in Hindustani music. Gesture, 13(1), 93-99.

Conference Papers

  • Pearson, L. (2015). Hand gesture in South Indian vocal lessons: The exploitation of cross-domain mapping as a pedagogic tool. Paper presented at the European Society for the Cognitive Science of Music (ESCOM) conference, Manchester, UK, 17-22 August, 2015.
  • Pearson, L. (2014). Gesture in Karnatak music pedagogy: Typologies, ethical constraints, and cross-modal Interaction. Paper presented at the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) annual conference, Pittsburgh, USA, 13-16 November, 2014.          
  • Pearson, L. (2014). Deviation from standard melodic formulas by an expert performer: An analysis of Karnatak raga alapana. Paper presented at Perspectives on Musical Improvisation II (POMI II), University of Oxford, 9-12 September, 2014.           
  • Pearson, L. (2014). A typology of gestural interaction in Karnatak vocal lessons. Paper presented at the 6th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS), University of California, San Diego, 8-11 July, 2014.   
  • Pearson, L. (2014). A kinetic approach to music analysis: Coarticulation in South Indian raga performance. Paper presented at the British Forum for Ethnomusicology – Analytical Approaches to World Music conference (BFE-AAWM), University College London, 1-4 July, 2014.
  • Pearson, L. (2014). Documenting the learning process: Preservation in Karnatak music. Paper presented at Safeguarding the Intangible: Cross-cultural perspectives on Music and Heritage, Goldsmiths, University of London, 19-21 February, 2014.
  • Pearson, L. (2013). Gesture and the sonic event in Karnatak music. Paper presented at the Sixth International Conference of Students of Systematic Musicology, Genoa, Italy, 12-14 September, 2013.
  • Pearson, L. (2013). Coarticulation and kinetic analogy in Karnatak music. Paper presented at Society for Music Analysis Theory and Analysis Graduate Symposium (TAGS), Keele University, 18-19 February, 2013.
  • Pearson, L. (2012). A delicate balancing act: Tests of skill and the creation of risk in Karnatak music performance. Presented at the British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) conference, University of Durham, UK, 29 March – 1 April, 2012.

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