Still, silent listening in India: the meanings of embodied listening practices

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


With this chapter, I explore the social meanings of embodied ways of listening to North Indian classical music. I focus especially on still, silent listening, a mode of listening that has been neglected in scholarship in this context. This scholarly neglect reflects the fact that most North Indian classical musicians and listeners tend either not to discuss this form of listening or else to cast it in a negative light, preferring instead to celebrate more active, noisy ways of listening to music. However, by not considering the full range of listening practices at North Indian classical performances, scholars have not theorised how competing value systems shape different ways of listening within a single performance environment. Here, I consider how certain North Indian classical musicians and listeners invest still, silent listening with positive significance. I argue that embodied modes of attending to music are implicated in social negotiations over prestige and status. Moreover, embodied listening demeanours have the power to reproduce musical ideologies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationListening to music: people, practices and experiences
EditorsHelen Barlow, David Rowland
PublisherOpen University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781473023208
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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