This paper examines the mediating role of language in the trapansmission of Body Techniques, via both theory and practice. The study focuses on a teacher's narrative, through observation of several lessons in European classical vocal training, and on the concept of “redundancy” and the theory of communication proposed by the American cultural anthropologist Gregory Bateson. The respondents to the survey included one vocal teacher and four amateur singers (learners). Transcriptions from the sound recordings of several personal lessons were analyzed.
The paper makes three main points clear. The first point is about the issue of the functions of “metaphor”. The information contained in Body Techniques cannot be verbalized naturally, so the central element of transmission process must be mimicry. By using metaphors, however, the teacher can support each learner's mastery. The extended meaning of a metaphor acts as a catalyst for making new correlations among the experiences of the learner. However, unrestrained extension of polysemy leads to the unregulated possibility of error.
The second point concerns the structure ensuring the functions of metaphor. We can find “redundancy” in the hierarchic structure, or context, of the teacher's narrative. “Redundancy” means the possibility of predicting what will come next, due to the restrained scope thereof. So, this “redundancy” allows learners to correct errors automatically in their own understanding of the meaning of each metaphor. On that basis, the repeated appearance of similar metaphorical expressions in the narrative represents the accumulation of deviations from the context, which thus causes the reconstruction of the context itself. In other words, the functions of metaphors marked as “Languages of Craft” in the preceding studies are guaranteed structurally with the accumulation of other ordinary expressions.
The third point is about the structural “redundancy” of the transmission or lesson itself. In each lesson, there is a pattern constructed by the action or performance and narrative of the teacher and the learner. Through this pattern, the learner reconstructs not only his or her framework of Body Techniques, but also the relationship between the teacher and the learner. Transmission is a process of enhancing “redundancy” on all levels of the hierarchic contexts through this meta-communication. In this process, the teacher can break even deadlocked communication via the narrative. However, in theory, the teacher must also reflect on his or her own techniques and reconstruct them a little. Finally, this circular interaction of the transmission between teacher and learner supports the Body Techniques, the holistic organic wisdom, with the constant process of restraint, deviation and reconstruction.