Dr. Lara Pearson

Research Areas

  • Musical practices in South India
  • Gesture and movement in musical contexts
  • Socially situated aesthetics
  • Notions of improvisation and composition
  • Music notation


Academic Education

2012­–2016Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Durham, UK with a thesis on gesture in South Indian art music
2011–2012MA in Ethnomusicology (with Distinction) at Goldsmiths, University of London


Since 2018Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Music Department 
2016–2017Postdoctoral fellow at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen 
2013–2017Part-time teacher at the University of Durham, UK 
2008–2011Fieldwork and practical music studies in South India 


Edited Volume

Hamilton, A., & Pearson, L. (Eds.), (2020). The Aesthetics of Imperfection in Music and the Arts: Spontaneity, Flaws and the Unfinished. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN:  9781350106055

Journal Articles and Book Sections

Pearson, L. and Ramanujacharyulu, T.K.V. (accepted). Handwritten Notation in Karnatak Music: Memory and the Mediation of Social Relations. In, Federico Celestini und Sarah Lutz (Eds.), Musikalische Schreibszenen / Scenes of Musical Writing, Paderborn: Wilhlem Fink Verlag (Theorie der musikalischen Schrift, 4). 

Nuttall, T., Plaja-Roglans, G., Pearson, L., & Serra, X. (accepted). In Search of Sañcāras: Tradition-informed Repeated Melodic Pattern Recognition in Carnatic Music. In Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR), Bengaluru, India. http://hdl.handle.net/10230/54155

Pearson, L. (accepted). A Social Aesthetics and Ethics of Imperfection: Insights from Karnatak Music, Jazz and Free Improvisation. In P. Cheyne (Ed.), Imperfectionist Aesthetics in Art and Everyday Life. Routledge.

Pearson, L., & Pouw, W. (2022). Gesture–vocal Coupling in Karnatak Music Performance: A Neuro–bodily Distributed Aesthetic Entanglement. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.14806

Pearson, L. (2022). Inscription, Gesture, and Social Relations: Notation in Karnatak Music. In E. Payne & F. Schuiling (Eds.), Material Cultures of Music Notation: New Perspectives on Musical Inscription. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429342837-13

Nuttall, T., Plaja, G., Pearson, L., Serra, X. (2021) The Matrix Profile for Motif Discovery in Audio - An Example Application in Carnatic Music. In, Proceedings of the 15th International Symposium on CMMR, Online (pp. 109-118). https://cmmr2021.github.io/proceedings/pdffiles/cmmr2021_13.pdf

Wald-Fuhrmann, M., Pearson, L., Roeske, T., Grüny, C., & Polak, R. (2021). Music as a trait in evolutionary theory: A musicological perspective. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,44, E93. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X20001193

Pearson, L. (2021). “Improvisation” in Play: A View through South Indian Music Practices. In A. Bertinetto & M. Ruta (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Improvisation in the Arts (pp. 446-461). Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003179443-35

Pearson, L. (2021). A Socially Situated Aesthetics: Arguments from Anthropology and Neuroaesthetics. Proceedings from First Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Sound, Movement, and the Sciences (pp. 32-34). https://zenodo.org/record/5514167#.YhfPo5PMLOQ

Pearson, L. (2021). Cultural Specificities in Carnatic and Hindustani Music: Commentary on the Saraga Open Dataset. Empirical Musicology Review16(1), 166-171. http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/emr.v16i1.7974

Pearson, L. (2021). »Die Sozialisation der Sinne« Ästhetik, Kultur und Kontext. Musik Und Ästhetik, 100, 87–93. https://www.musikundaesthetik.de/content/pdf/99.120205/mu-25-4-76.pdf

Pearson, L. (2020). A Socially Situated Approach to Aesthetics: Games and Challenges in Karnatak Music. In A. Hamilton & L. Pearson (Eds.), The Aesthetics of Imperfection in Music and the Arts: Spontaneity, Flaws and the Unfinished (pp. 61-72). London: Bloomsbury Academic. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350106086.0016

Jacoby, N., Margulis, EH, Clayton, M., Hannon, E., Honing, H., Iversen, J., Klein, TR, More, SA, Pearson, L., Peretz, I., Perlman, M ., Polak, R., Ravignani, A., Savage, PE, Steingo, G., Stevens, CJ, Trainor, L., Trehub, S., Veal, M., & Wald-Fuhrmann, M. (2020) , Cross-cultural work in music cognition. Music Perception, 37 (3), 185-195. https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2020.37.3.185

Pearson, L. (2018). Cultural Heritage, Sustainability and Innovation in South Indian Art Music. In B. Norton and N. Matsumoto (Eds.), Music as Heritage: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives . Aldershot: Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315393865-12

Pearson, L. (2016). Coarticulation and Gesture: An Analysis of Melodic Movement in South Indian Raga Performance. Music Analysis , 35 (3), 280-313. https://doi.org/10.1111/musa.12071

Pearson, L. (2013). Gesture and the Sonic Event in Karnatak Music. Empirical Musicology Review, 8 (1), 2-14. https://doi.org/10.18061/emr.v8i1.3918 

PhD Thesis

Pearson, L. (2016). Gesture in Karnatak Music: Pedagogy and Musical Structure in South India. (PhD), University of Durham. http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/11782/


Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

2017Aubrey Hickman Award given by SEMPRE (Society for Education, Music and
Psychology Research)
2015Martin Hatch Award given by the Society for Asian Music
2014iARC (Institute of Advanced Research Computing) Digital Humanities Durham Postgraduate Research Award
2014Durham University Arts and Humanities Faculty Postgraduate Research Award
2014ERASMUS Mobility Award to conduct motion analysis at the University of Oslo
2013SEMPRE (Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research) Gerry Farrell Travel Award for fieldwork in India
2012–2015Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Studentship Award