Cross-cultural chironomia

In Tune thy musicke to thy hart: The art of eloquent singing in England, 15971622 (Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1993) Robert Toft cites Chirologia, or, The naturall language of the hand (1644) by John Bulwer as a source for rhetorical gesturing that may apply to the performance of English art songs from this period.

“Gesture in the English lute-song” by Rosemary Carlton-Willis (Lute news 94 [August 2010] pp. 8–12) gives concrete examples of the use of gestures in performing this repertory, and includes a comparison with South Asian ghazal singing, which also has a gestural tradition.

Below, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948–97) demonstrates South Asian chironomia in a performance of the ghazal Angrai peh angrai.

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Filed under Curiosities, Performance practice, Renaissance

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