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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Metaphorical and non-metaphorical imagery use in vocal pedagogy : an investigation of underlying cognitive organisational constructs Jestley, Jennifer Aileen


This study investigates the metaphorical and non-metaphorical imagery used by voice teachers for pedagogical purposes. The study objectives were to investigate what—if any—underlying pictorial, structural, and/or conceptual approaches governed the expressions employed. In order to analyse the expressions offered by the voice teachers, I drew on linguist George Lakoff’s and philosopher/linguist Mark Johnson’s conceptual metaphor theory for help in revealing cross-domain mapping. I employed two components of their theory in order to account for the logic which connects singers’ shared embodied experiences with the non-imagistic realm of tone creation, and borrowed from a third component to show a particular underlying conceptual image which holistically organised a number of discrete expressions and actions in singing. To address my objectives, I carried out an instrumental case study at a university and a community college located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The data came from interviews with six voice teachers working at these two institutes, and covered four broad categories commonly addressed in vocal pedagogy: Body alignment, Breath management, Resonance/Phonation, and Sound production. My findings clearly indicated that the voice teachers participating in this study employed all three organizational constructs. The analysis showed that the underlying structures involved in these constructs had sufficient internal structure to constrain meaning and reasoning. Even abstract concepts such as the colour and quality of tone were shown to be constrained by embodied experience through a process of association. Such transferences of information indicated that the expressions examined were not arbitrarily construed, despite arguments to the contrary. Notably, this study establishes a basis for contending that the three constructs which emerged from the data qualify as the “common [vocabularies]” which the vocal community has long sought to establish (Cleveland, 1989, p. 41).

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