This article builds on Scollon’s work on rhythm in ordinary talk (1981, 1982) and mediated discourse analysis (primarily 1998 and 2001) extending his work by utilizing multimodal interaction analysis (MIA) (Norris 2004) as the methodological framework.
With multimodal transcripts of everyday interactions from grooming a horse to a workplace interaction and two boys painting Easter eggs, the article first illustrates Scollon’s notion of tempo, then discusses the new findings of Auftakt (offbeat or prelude taken from musicology) and that rhythm in chains of lower-level action may cross modal boundaries, before investigating a micro-medium-macro link. This micro-medium-macro link in everyday interaction is then explored through the analysis of the complexity of rhythm in everyday interaction by analysing an example of a father playing ball with his two-year old son. Here, it is demonstrated how multimodal rhythms are superimposed from chains of lower-level actions to chains of higher-level actions and to practices. Further, these superimposed rhythms are shown to take on a different tempo at each level. The article ends with the claim that rhythm, as Scollon thought, to a large extent structures ordinary interaction; but, as discussed throughout, and Scollon would have agreed, it is MIA that allows us to analyse the multimodal complexity.