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Tuesday, July 2 • 1:30pm - 2:10pm
Understanding specialization in specialized music programs through multimodal discourse analysis

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Object of study
This paper aims at exploring how principles of Specialization may be investigated through systemic functional-multimodal discourse analysis. The theoretical discussion is anchored in ongoing substantial studies of arts programs in compulsory education, more precisely, various specialist and non-specialist music classes across nations. The interesting issue here is in what ways such programs are specialized in a similar manner, and differing from each other in the discursive composition of epistemic/social relations. In this paper, video recordings of official stage performances by students (concerts) are analysed. The point here is to illuminate underlying principles of specialization by analyzing instances where semiotic recourses are used, arranged, and displayed on stage.

Theory and method
The theoretical framework integrates the LCT dimension of Specialization (Maton, 2014) with Systemic Functional-Multimodal Discourse Analysis (O’Halloran, 2008). In this paper, SF-MDA contributes to Specialization by explaining how various semiotic recourses are used and combined for making meaning in relation to specialization and functionality (cf. Jewitt, Bezemer & O’Halloran, 2016; Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2006; Tan, O’Halloran, Wignell, Chai & Lange, 2018). The analysis is focused on the canons of use in a particular social context, that is, the instantiation relation between the performance and the underlying system of rules (Ledin & Machin, 2018).

Data consist of video recordings of authentic concerts, uploaded on YouTube by parents/teachers/school boards. In this paper, a comparative analysis of two Swedish schools is presented. One of them is recognized as a renowned elite school with students of higher SES (Adolf Fredrik’s Music School), while the other represents low-performing schools in the area of lower SES (Alfred Dahlin).

Results and conclusions
The performances of Adolf Fredriks’ Music School (AF) demonstrate principles of an elite code where students have acquired advanced skills in musical performance, and where the students represent a homogenous social group of higher SES and well-educated parents. Alfred Dahlin, on the other hand, reflects the code where you have to be interested in music, but without requirements of special skills or a particular social background.

Although students from AD sometimes convey an ungrammatical use of music (e.g. not in tune, irregular in beat or accent), the distinguishing features are the canons of use and differing orientation to register. While the performances of upper music classes are typically formal, lower music classes make an informal arrangement of semiotic resources. For instance, AF’s performances are located in concert halls and cathedrals, while the performances of AD are located in school canteens and informal auditoriums. The differing orientations to formality and social order is perceptible just by looking at how students are lined up on stage, whether there is a use of a formal conductor, a teacher, or an informal performance by students themselves. Furthermore, there are differences in the choice of stage clothes, and not least how intended and unintended gestures are displayed through the performance. In sum, the different choices of registers signal distinctions in the definition of legitimate behaviour and significant others (class, identity etc.).

This paper show how specialization may be analysed through a multimodal discourse analysis in order to expose non-linguistic recourses in discursive communication. Although SFL has been elaborated for studying the interaction between linguistic and non-linguistic resources in multimodal meaning making, musical forms of communication have hardly been considered (in comparison to contributions on visual images and film – see e.g. Bateman, 2014; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006; O’Halloran, 2008; O’Toole, 2011). Methodological challenges include how to modelling the functionality of non-verbal semiotic recourses - a field of research in need of further development.

Tuesday July 2, 2019 1:30pm - 2:10pm SAST
Room B45

Attendees (7)