CompoSing Awareness

Somaesthetics, Karnatik music and the Voice


  • Charulatha Mani Griffith University


This paper aligns the fundamental principles of Somaesthetics with pressing issues in the field of voice in Karnatik music, the music of Southern India. In doing so, it unpacks a composition and singing process from a bodily perspective, uniquely weaving together the philosophies of yoga and body awareness into the pragmatic paradigm of vocalised and perceived sound. After laying out an initial theoretical foundation and rationale, the author, a Karnatik singer, unpacks her journey into composing and recording an intercultural musical piece that incorporates Western harmony into the monodic melody type typical of the Karnatik system, a Raga. She uses journaling as her tool, and cross-references her reflections with those of her singing collaborator and sister, who is also a professional singer and yoga practitioner. The musical creation, Sonic River, in conjunction with written accounts of lived experience from both artists and certain yogic poses, as photographs, cumulatively forge an understanding of the crucial role of body awareness in achieving and inspiring a fulfilling and free artistic expression, particularly in the context of voice.