Musical Embodiment and Perception: Performances, Avatars and Audiences

William Westney, Cynthia M Grund, Michael O'Boyle, James Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An experiment was conducted in which four pianists prepared and memorized (independently) the same two brief classical selections, one by Grieg and one by Hummel. They reported individually to a motion-capture laboratory (passive optical camera system), where 46 reflective markers were affixed to the landmarks of their bodies so that three-dimensional location profile recordings could be created. At that time they were asked to perform each of the two pieces in two different performance modes: “enjoyment” and “correct.” These two terms had not been mentioned to them until that moment. The resulting motion-capture data was analyzed to see if these two different modes, or mindsets, would engender distinct and comprehensive neuromuscular responses in the players. Such differences in responses were indeed observed. In a follow-up study, eight individuals (four trained musicians, four non-musicians) were placed in an fMRI scanner so that their brains could be monitored while they viewed th
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-381
JournalSIGNATA. Annales des Sémiotique /Annals of Semiotics
StatePublished - Nov 2015


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