Music and Embodied Cognition: Listening, Moving, Feeling, and Thinking. By Arnie Cox

Music and Embodied Cognition: Listening, Moving, Feeling, and Thinking. By Arnie Cox The disciplines of music theory and musicology have long given highest status to the score as the site of meaning, an approach that has seen performance as a form of mediation between composer and listener. But innovative research over the last few decades—in embodiment,1 cognition,2 agency,3 performance and recordings studies,4 and performance-centered approaches to structure formation5—has encouraged music scholars to take their own embodiments, as well as specific performances or recordings, more seriously in music analysis and criticism. Arnie Cox’s work, aimed primarily at listeners, contributes to this change in approach. His new book builds on his earlier established “mimetic hypothesis,”6 and draws on George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s conceptual metaphor theory.7 It is an exploration of how we feel, experience, and conceptualize music. Cox draws attention to musical concepts that are entrenched in our discourses, but that are, objectively speaking, inaudible: pitch height, musical motion, musical tension, striving melodies, leaps, and so forth. Such properties of musical meaning, while often attributed to “the music,” are shown to emerge through listeners’ embodied participations or co-performances. Drawing on linguistics, cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy, Cox’s multifaceted theory takes into account different types of music, different peoples’ experiences, and different musical contexts. The book is in three parts. In Part 1, Cox introduces the principal processes involved in the comprehension and conceptualization of music. Chapters 1–2 (“Mimetic Comprehension”; “Mimetic Comprehension of Music”) outline the “mimetic hypothesis,” which explains how we “feel” music and how it “moves” us. Cox illustrates how imitation is central to human understanding, and that we mimic while listening to music, while recalling music in our mind, or while thinking about music more generally. He explains that our mimicking can be overt or covert, voluntary or involuntary, and conscious or nonconscious. Cox pays special attention to covert, involuntary, nonconscious mimesis, which involves mimetic motor imagery (MMI), as opposed to overt mimetic motor action (MMA). He points out that covert mimesis might be represented via activity in brain regions linked to the motor system, rather than via observable bodily activity. Cox’s explanation of how we comprehend music mimetically is, as with all his explanations throughout the book, admirably comprehensive insofar that he details the entire spectrum of possibilities—albeit in broad strokes at each turn, and in terms aimed more at the amateur than professional musician. He explains that musical sounds point to physical sources—often human actions—and that we understand music in part via covert or overt mimesis of those sources, whether seen or not seen, heard or not heard, and occurring presently, in the past, or in the future. (The imagination alone can trigger the “feel.”) As Cox explains, mimesis can be intramodal (listening to a saxophonist playing high notes, and imagining what it would be like to play those high notes on that instrument); acoustically or non-acoustically intermodal (listening to a violin melody, and either singing the melody internally or moving one’s body to the sounds and rhythms); or amodal (experiencing the abdominal exertions that nearly always support the other forms of mimesis, and which empathize with the energetic shapes of the music). Cox illustrates how the level and specific type of one’s mimetic engagement depends on several factors.8 He also shows that mimesis is particularly important when goal-directed actions are involved,9 and that mimesis can induce emotional experiences. In mimicking the production of high notes on a saxophone, for example, I might experience a sense of effort, striving, or even rage. Or in relaxing my body and muscles to the soft, unchanging sounds of a musical passage, I might experience a sense of tenderness or tranquility. And as Cox stresses throughout the book, such embodied experiences shape our conceptualizations of music, often subconsciously. He offers a wealth of evidence for the hypothesis.10 The author’s extensive use of the word “mimesis” could unintentionally throw some readers off. The term potentially suggests replicating what is already present and self-contained in “the work” or performance. But mimesis in music (and in art generally) requires that we extend what is actually present in the score, that we fill in the gaps, and that we make material meaningful for us through our imaginations. In Chapter 3 (“Metaphor and Related Means of Reasoning”), the explanation of how we conceptualize musical experience via the use of conceptual metaphor (i.e., metaphorical reasoning) is likewise remarkably thorough. We learn that the process involves understanding our abstract experience of an often invisible thing (the target domain, such as music) in terms of our more grounded, bodily experience of another thing (the source domain). We use structural patterns from the source domain in order to metaphorically understand patterns in the target domain, a process called cross-domain mapping. Structural patterns may be objective and observable, or they may have more to do with our emotional experiences. Central to metaphorical reasoning, Cox explains, are image schemas. These are abstract internal representations of a thing or concept, and of our interactions with that thing or concept. They include relevant visual, spatial, bodily, intentional, and emotional information; they are shaped by our recurring bodily experiences in everyday life; and they guide our conceptualizations of things or concepts in more abstract domains. Throughout the book, Cox gives particular attention to the path schema and container schema. The path schema, we learn, is shaped by one’s experiences of moving along paths, and by associated features such as exertion, incentive, and satisfaction. It is shaped from a young age, and is used in our conceptions of musical “lines” along which we, “the music,” or a fictional agent moves. In some cases we might imagine ourselves being moved by the music, a scenario involving a surrendering of personal agency. The container schema, in Cox’s account, is analogous to a musical “landscape.” It can refer to the containment of actual or metaphorical phenomena, serving to contain anything from an emotionally static section of sound, to a section in a particular key, to a whole musical work. Most noticeably absent in Part 1—as throughout the whole book—is a discussion of the role of performance nuances. Cox mentions elements of performance only in very broad strokes. For example, he notes, and provides evidence for, the idea that more expertise on a given instrument generally equates with a higher level of mimetic engagement when listening to that instrument. And he frequently stresses the fact that “underlying all mimetic comprehension is the correlation between musical sounds and the actions or events that produce them” (25). But this correlation is explored at the most basic of levels. (In hearing the drums, for example, we imagine someone hitting a drum.) There will be only a brief comment later in the book on the role of performance practices (207–8). This is surprising given that Cox’s theory centers round the performative (embodied) nature of all experience, and thus of all conceptualization. Web links to specific performances could have highlighted, and opened up for discussion, the vital roles of performance nuances in embodiment. And they could have pointed to the techniques of illusion performers employ as means of shaping listeners’ bodily involvements, and thus sonic worlds. Such considerations would have been useful, for example, in Cox’s explanation of the leap schema (an exertion schema and subtype of the path schema). Here, the author might have discussed the role of performance techniques in creating the feeling of a leap (or of a step), for performers can make musical “steps” feel like leaps, and musical “leaps” feel like steps. Such a performative analysis would have stressed the somewhat arbitrary nature of these musical terms. Given the number of categories and headings in Part 1 (and the book as a whole), it is also surprising Cox does not give more space to the blurry but important categories of embodying performance gestures versus embodying more general (or abstract) life gestures. For example, in many cases, performance gestures are incompatible with the abstract movements the performer or listener ascribes to the music as a moving “body.” In other cases, one often merges between, or revels in the similarities between, the two types of movements: in listening to rapid two-handed passagework in piano music, I might engage in narrow, quick, efficient bodily (but non-pianistic) movements, and would thus be grounding my conceptualization in part in the relative physical economy needed for the actual performance of such piano music. Cox gives only very brief attention to such categories later in the book (179–80). Part 2 draws on conceptual metaphor theory and the mimetic hypothesis to demonstrate how our basic musical concepts of pitch height, temporal motion, and musical motion arise. In Chapter 4 (“Pitch Height”), we learn that our understanding of pitches as “high” or “low” draws in part on metaphoric reasoning. Cox outlines the two main factors at play: the process of mimetic subvocalization,11 and the conceptual metaphor greater is higher, through which we conceive of greater quantities of a thing as being of a “higher” amount (as in “high esteem”). Grounding this metaphor, as Cox explains, is the bodily experience of engaging with a great quantity of material that accumulates vertically. He makes clear that by drawing on the source domain and its visual, spatial, bodily, intentional, and emotional information we can understand abstract concepts with greater clarity, relevance, and psychological import. For example, when I fail to understand an idea, I might express frustration by saying “it was a highfalutin idea, and it went way over my head.” I would thus be conceiving of greater complexity as higher complexity. And the experiential grounding of the metaphor (of a thing out of reach, well above my head) imbues my experience with physical and emotional meaning. As Cox elucidates, we use the greater is higher metaphor in our conceptions of pitch height in part because we subvocalize, and in doing so mimic some of the greater effort, tension, muscular activity, and tightening of the vocal cords required to reach high notes vocally. We are thus shown that our conception of pitch height emerges from our bodily participation in sound. Cox clearly outlines several factors that play into our conception of pitch height, some literal and some metaphorical. Some of these factors (such as exertion, effort, and head/chest voice) are enmeshed with one’s mimetic participation.12 Cox carefully elucidates the metaphorical nature of, and embodied grounding for, our concept of “musical motion” (Chapter 5: “Temporal Motion and Musical Motion”). As he describes, musical motion includes the idea that sounds or melodies move from place to place in musical space, both on the vertical plane (via our conceptions of pitch height) and on the horizontal plane (through time). Textural and acoustical specificities provide a sense of depth—a sense of what is closer and further away from the embodier and from other reference points. In Cox’s account, we must understand our metaphorical concepts of time moving, and of movement through time, in order to understand how musical motion works. Cox begins by exploring how concrete spatiotemporal bodily experience grounds the majority of our concepts of temporal relations. In many cultures, he points out, people think of past events as located behind them, and of future events as located ahead. We learn that such conceptions draw either on the metaphor of moving through a temporal landscape (toward future events), or on the metaphor of flowing time (where future events move toward us). With the first metaphor, sometimes called the “moving observer metaphor,” time points are static, and are reached by the observer. With the second metaphor, sometimes called the “moving time metaphor,” time is dynamic and moving toward our stationary position. Cox refers to these two metaphors as the “moving observer scenario” and the “stationary observer scenario” (116) respectively. Temporal relations do not, of course, involve locations. As Cox stresses, it is only by drawing on our concrete experience of space and movement that we can understand temporal relations in this way. According to Cox, our conception of future events as located in front of us derives from our source domain of bodily motion through space: events that we keenly anticipate (such as reaching locations or finding desired objects) tend to be located in front of our bodies, and we move toward them. The chapter then clarifies how our metaphorical conceptions of musical motion likewise draw on the source domain of spatiotemporal experience, and how we partake in some of the same psychological aspects found in the source domain, like anticipating future (sonic and participatory) events ahead of us. As a result of long established correlations between experience, location, and motion (anticipation/ahead/approach; memory/behind/departure etc.), we conceive of such things as musical departure, approach, and arrival, and thus of musical locations along a path. We do this despite there being no actual motion or space involved. Cox states that this, alongside our two metaphorical scenarios described above, provides us with concepts such as “musical events lying ahead” (moving observer scenario) or “musical events approaching” (stationary observer scenario). As the book explains, we draw on the conceptual metaphor states are locations to develop concepts of more specific musical locations. According to Cox’s account, we use this metaphor more generally to conceive of different types of states as locations in space. (I might say that I am “down in the dumps” or “on a high,” or I might be told to “snap out of it.”) And we conceive of moving to and from (or being moved to and from) these states. The greater the difference in states, the greater the “distance” between them—and hence the related metaphors change is motion and difference is distance. Motivating these metaphors, Cox tells us, is the familiar scenario of experiencing changes to our physical or psychological state when we translocate. Musically speaking, this metaphor explains our conceptions of numerous experiences, including “bathing in sound” (where little change is experienced, and where we experience one overriding emotional state as a single location), being “thrown into a distant realm” (via “distant” keys or moods etc.), or being “transported into” a new emotional sonic world (where we relinquish a sense of personal agency and conceive of the music as carrying us to a different state-location). Chapter 6 (“Perspectives on Musical Motion”) explores the role mimetic participation plays in our conceptualizations of musical motion. According to Cox’s theory of a “tripartite perspective” of listening, we can conceive of ourselves as moving observers (quasi-first-person perspective), as stationary observers within the musical landscape (second-person perspective), or as observers of the musical motion from a bird’s-eye view (quasi-third-person perspective)—three perspectives often blurred in actual musical experience. The naming of these perspectives could perhaps be more informative. The use of the word “observer” for all three perspectives downplays the performative, embodied participation involved in the quasi-first-person perspective in particular, and diminishes its contrast with the second-person perspective (which is more passive and observer-oriented in nature). Cox’s alternative to the three-part model is to view listening perspectives as existing on a continuum between “interior” and “exterior” positioning, providing us with four imaginary perspectives.13 In all cases, we conceive of movement (of “the music” or of a fictional agent) via embodied reasoning, and in part via mimetic participation. As Cox states, even the so-called exterior perspectives are informed by the bodily experiences of the respective interior perspectives. (When we see or imagine someone doing something or being in a certain situation, our understanding is grounded in our own experience of doing that thing or being in that situation).14 This chapter is thus vital in stressing that much of our conceptualization of musical agency derives from the quasi-first-person perspective of listening, which is always present in some amount. Our embodied participation—including our real or imagined movements, exertions, will, effort, and submissions—is often attributed to a fictional agent. We too, then, are agents. Cox’s contribution in this respect complements other studies of agency, such as Monahan’s (2013) model of hierarchical levels of agency as they recur in music-theoretical writings. Given his emphasis on the illusory aspects of musical motion, it would have been illuminating to devote some attention in Part 2 of the book to the often illusory nature of sonic movement between pitches. Missing is a consideration of imagined, supplemental sound—a musical feature shaped largely by performance.15 In the case of tonal music, the sense of a fictional agent (or embodier) moving toward and/or beyond stable melodic points, with or against musical “forces,” can create a huge variety of types of motion, tension and release between and through tones.16 Crucially, though, the embodied sense of a gravitational field through which we gesture does not rely fully on tonal and metrical relationships and on relative degrees of stability; it also relies on performers’ techniques of illusion.17 And different embodiments (of different performances of the same music) can then radically change our experiential sense of time.18 In Part 3 of the book, Cox uses conceptual metaphor theory and the mimetic hypothesis to explain the emergence of musical affect. He thus draws attention to the problems of talking about “the music,” as if it were an objective, given fact. Chapter 7 (“Music and the External Senses”) explores how, in conceptualizing knowledge and understanding as concepts, we use all five senses as source domains—seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting. (I might say: “that plan smells fishy”; “I have a firm grasp of the concept”; or “the answer unfolded before me.”) However, as Cox underscores, information from some domains is privileged in our conceptualizations of knowledge and understanding. Cox points to the domain of sight, because our level of visual control (in terms of how we use or don’t use vision) is particularly high, and because visual stimuli are available all around us. He focuses on two prominent metaphors: knowing is seeing (I might say “I see what you mean”) and understanding is grasping (I might say “I have a good grasp of the subject,” or “I get it now”). Cox convincingly argues that this privileging of seeing and grasping metaphors problematizes our understanding of musical concepts. The domain of hearing is seldom used in English as a way of conceptualizing knowledge. (In daily life, hearing affords relatively little volition and is associated with relatively low availability of stimuli.) And it is shown that by resorting to our seeing and grasping metaphors for understanding musical concepts, we tend to visualize and objectify music in the form of scores, graphic analyses, sonic visualizations of recordings, and so forth. This takes for granted the often invisible packets of embodied information that our musical concepts rely on from the start. One ramification, Cox suggests, is that analysis privileges those aspects of music (pitch, rhythm) that are most easily made into simple images. This phenomenon also explains why we might feel a sense of wonder or ephemerality while listening to music: Cox shows how our privileging of seeing and grasping metaphors leaves us vulnerable to sounds, which are invisible and untouchable. This is an excellent counter-argument to those who argue that musical concepts are objective facts, not grounded in embodiment. Cox uses an aspect of embodiment and conceptual metaphor theory to explain why music might “appear” to be this way, at least at first “glance.” Chapter 8 (“Musical Affect”) draws our attention to how various elements of musical affect have an often overlooked mimetic component, and how the bodily basis for our musical concepts (such as musical motion and pitch height) imbues our experience of music with an emotional quality from the start. One element of musical affect identified by Cox is anticipation, which includes not just predicting or anticipating what is to come, but also what one (as the embodier) is about to do or feel. For me, this goes some way in explaining why we become attached to beloved, familiar recordings—because we are rewarded by being able to engage our bodies in perfect accordance with the sounds (performance nuances) we know to be forthcoming. Another element of affect considered in this chapter is expression. As listeners, we don’t simply “receive” expressions or emotions in “the music.” Rather, as Cox emphasizes, there is a quasi-first-person listening component. Indeed, this component is often overlooked in other authors’ discussions of musical emotion. Cox offers frameworks for applying ideas presented in the book, particularly ideas on musical affect, in Chapter 9 (“Applications”). The tendency to over-categorize is especially prevalent here, where the author sets up a “5 × 8 framework” to account for how musical affect is created. The framework is based on the eight elements of musical affect (discussed in Chapter 8) and the five basic elements of sound—pitch, duration, timbre, strength, and location. Cox then states that there are four ways to apply this 5 × 8 framework,19 and that there are two ways in which to proceed.20 Here was Cox’s chance to engage in the phenomenological description I had been waiting for. But lacking from the few musical examples and analyses are detailed accounts of Cox’s embodied experiences. This misses an opportunity to highlight an important fact revealed through this kind of work—that different people hear the same piece (and even the same performance) differently, and that they draw on different metaphors in different ways, and consequently form different meanings. Cox sets the scene for a detailed account of his experience of the opening of Webern’s Op. 5, No. 4 (202–8), but resorts to repeating general comments about mimetic (sub)vocalization and movement. Then, in his discussion of “Dido’s Lament,” he writes that “my experience of this recitative is more subtle than this description” (217), but does not describe how. The lack of detailed phenomenological description is all the more surprising given his elaborate “5 × 8 framework,” which begs for detailed accounts. In Chapter 10 (“Review and Implications”), Cox concludes by reviewing the main ideas of the theory, and by offering suggestions for how aspects of it can be used in the classroom (for example, by asking students why we use the terms “high” and “low” notes, and by asking students if musical tones have the volition we imply they do in common parlance). Such pedagogical suggestions are well received. Most students arrive at university having never questioned the traditional, “objective” truths about music. Many performance students, I find, are aware of the embodied and metaphorical nature of musical concepts. But even these students tend to resort to another, more traditional mode of explanation when they first come into the theory classroom. This, I believe, is a symptom of the sidelining of performance from musical scholarship. But embodiment theory is one way forward, for we are all embodiers, and we are thus all performers. This is an essential book because it covers, in detail, the most basic underpinnings of our systems of meaning formation and conceptualization. I have summarized much of the book because it contains important material that, while perhaps obvious to many, has yet to be fully assimilated into many areas of music theory and musicology. Again, this is in large part because of the divide between music performance and music scholarship. For most of the ideas in this book have been part of performance pedagogy for centuries. In performance lessons, students have long explored ways of “being” the music, imagined themselves as musical agents, positioned themselves in more active or more passive ways within a static or moving musical landscape, and considered how their performance gestures relate to more abstract “musical” gestures. The concept of subvocalization has likewise been taught for centuries in performance circles.21 As Seymour Bernstein wrote in 1981, “I experience all piano playing in my vocal cords, and, as I have discovered, so do many other pianists.”22 In many ways, performance is far ahead of music theory in its understanding of embodiment. There are two notable omissions in this book. The first, as I have mentioned throughout the review, is a detailed consideration of the role of performance. Performers do not simply “realize, shape, and/or extend the mimetic invitation” (47); they can invent it. To embody is to perform, and so the disengagement with performance studies is immediately evident. And a summary of past and present thought in musical performance would have served as further evidence for the principles of Cox’s theory. The second aspect is a detailed description of embodied musical experience. With no precise phenomenological accounts, one of the most important outcomes of this type of work is not fully realized—i.e., the demonstration that each of our very personal embodiments shape the different ways each of us conceptualizes “the music,” whether our concern be with musical structure, emotion, or any other musical feature. Thus, while the book aims to explain how music “gets under our skin,” it only goes so far. In attempting to cover the widest array of musical experiences, Cox spreads the theoretical blanket over numerous but elementary aspects of musical experience and conceptualization, leaving room for future studies to explore more deeply the sensuous and magical world of musical experience. One research avenue opened up by this book is a study of more specific “modes of embodiment.” While Cox has brilliantly demonstrated how and why we share basic habits of conceptualization in the Western art music tradition (pitch height, musical motion etc.), it is also true that over time, as well as across different musical subcultures, we have accumulated many different but relatively intersubjective modes of embodiment, as evidenced in writings about music and performance.23 Different people can embody the same performance in different modes of embodiment, each of which prioritizes different image schemas to different extents and in different ways. This gap between shared fundamentals and differing embodied attitudes requires further study. Strikingly apparent throughout this book is Cox’s careful and scientific approach to theorizing the basic processes involved in listening to, conceptualizing, and being “moved” by, music. I will use this book as one of two texts in my upper-level seminar (“Music Performance and Embodiment Studies”) next year. Its availability as an ebook for institutional use makes it even more attractive. This is an impressive and invaluable book, and one I am sure scholars from numerous fields will be citing for years to come. Footnotes 1 Cumming (2001), Godøy (2010), Leman (2008, 2010), and Mead (1999). 2 Zbikowski (2002). 3 Maus (1997) and Monahan (2013). 4 Cook (2014). 5 Rink (1990). 6 Cox (2011). 7 Johnson (1987) and Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 1999). 8 These include one’s interest in the performance, whether or not one plays the instrument heard, one’s level of expertise on a given or related instrument, and the context of the performance. 9 As Cox illustrates, the goals can be “musical” (such as a melodic apex or important downbeat arrival), performer-centered (such as a difficult, wide leap on the keyboard), or both. 10 Evidence comes, for example, from psychological studies showing mimetic engagement in parent-infant and other relationships, from neurological studies of “mirrored” brain activity during the observation of others, from studies revealing mimetic engagement in listening to speech, from studies pointing to the activation of similar neural and motor systems in both listening to and imagining song, and from studies showing mimetic engagement in listening to instrumental music (dependent on the level of instrumental expertise of the listener). 11 As Cox illustrates, mimetic subvocalization often draws on the conceptual metaphor instrumental sounds are vocal sounds. 12 For example, he explains that through mimetic subvocalization we feel some of what it feels like for lower notes to induce more resonance in the chest and higher notes to induce more resonance in the head. 13 These are: a “moving observer/interior perspective” (where we participate actively in the movement along a musical path); a “stationary observer/interior perspective” (where we position ourselves as stationary and passive within a landscape of moving musical events); a “moving observer/exterior perspective” (where we observe the motion of an interior agent from a bird’s-eye perspective of the musical landscape); and a “stationary observer/exterior perspective” (where we observe the stationary position of an interior agent, as the musical structure passes it by, from a bird’s-eye perspective). 14 This raises questions about the exact nature and utility of Cox’s four perspectives. The distinction between “exterior” and “interior” perspectives seems to lie largely on the amount of non-present musical material (especially future events) the embodier considers at once. But in terms of hearing or imagining music in real time, the distinction between “exterior” and “interior” perspectives seems to dissolve. 15 Robb (2015a). Imagined, supplemental sounds are the sounds we “perform” internally (even during a sounding performance). They are not merely the internal mimicking of real sounds, as in Cox’s model of mimetic subvocalization. Performers’ actual sounds shape our embodiments, which in turn shape our imagined (supplemental) and/or filtered sounds. Associating particular performance nuances with particular performance movements and/or particular abstract movements affects the imagined sound one “hears” internally. For example, if I draw on my knowledge of how my body moves through space in order to conceive of a “musical line,” I might imagine the sound required to “move” through “musical space.” Fluid, dynamic sound—such as sliding pitch or gradually thickening or thinning sonic energy—might clarify and enrich my conception of how pitches get from one “place” to another. One’s imagined, supplemental sound will vary in level and type, depending on the performance nuances involved, as well as on one’s mode of embodiment. In my article, I provide an abridged historical and contemporary account of the topic as it relates to piano music, and as it is described in pedagogical and critical writings. 16 Larson (2012) and Hatten (2012). 17 Robb (2015a). 18 Robb (2015b). 19 These are: focusing on single events; on features; on events that recur; and on the relationship between sound and extramusical elements in the case of music with text or images. 20 These are: to go from sound to response, or to go from response back to the likely sonic source. 21 Robb (2015a). 22 Bernstein (1981, 120). 23 Robb (2015b). Works cited Bernstein Seymour. 1981 . With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery through Music . New York : Schirmer . Cook Nicholas. 2014 . Beyond the Score: Music as Performance . Oxford and New York : Oxford University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Cox Arnie. 2011 . “Embodying Music: Principles of the Mimetic Hypothesis.” Music Theory Online 17 ( 2 ). Cumming Naomi. 2001 . The Sonic Self: Musical Subjectivity and Signification. Bloomington : Indiana University Press . Godøy Rolf Inge. 2010 . “Gestural Affordances of Musical Sound.” In Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning . Ed. Gødoy Rolf Inge , Leman Marc . 103 – 25 . New York : Routledge . Hatten Robert. 2012 . “Musical Forces and Agential Energies: An Expansion of Steve Larson’s Model.” Music Theory Online 18 ( 3 ). Johnson Mark. 1987 . The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason . Chicago : University of Chicago Press . Lakoff George , Johnson Mark . 1980 . Metaphors We Live By. Chicago : University of Chicago Press . ———. 1999 . Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought . New York : Basic Books . Larson Steve. 2012 . Musical Forces. Bloomington : Indiana University Press . Leman Marc. 2008 . Embodied Music Cognition and Mediation Technology . Cambridge, MA : MIT Press . ———. 2010 . “Music, Gesture, and the Formation of Embodied Meaning.” In Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning . Ed. Godøy Rolf Inge , Leman Marc . 126 – 53 . New York : Routledge . Maus Fred Everett. 1997 . “Music as Drama.” In Music & Meaning . Ed. Robinson Jenefer . 105 – 30 . Ithaca : Cornell University Press . Mead Andrew. 1999 . “Bodily Hearing: Physiological Metaphors and Musical Understanding.” Journal of Music Theory 43 ( 1 ): 1 – 19 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Monahan Seth. 2013 . “Action and Agency Revisited.” Journal of Music Theory 57 ( 2 ): 321 – 71 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rink John. 1990 . “Review of Musical Structure and Performance by Wallace Berry.” Music Analysis 9 ( 3 ): 318 – 39 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Robb Hamish. 2015a . “Imagined, Supplemental Sound in Nineteenth-Century Piano Music: Towards a Fuller Understanding of Musical Embodiment.” Music Theory Online 21 ( 3 ). ———. 2015b . “Embodying Meaning and Imagining Sound in Nineteenth-Century Piano Music.” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University. Zbikowski Lawrence. 2002 . Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory, and Analysis . Chicago : University of Chicago Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Music Theory. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Theory Spectrum Oxford University Press

Music and Embodied Cognition: Listening, Moving, Feeling, and Thinking. By Arnie Cox

Music Theory Spectrum , Volume Advance Article (1) – Apr 6, 2018

Loading next page...
 
/lp/ou_press/music-and-embodied-cognition-listening-moving-feeling-and-thinking-by-zvIpfptXsC
Publisher
Society for Music Theory
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Music Theory. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
ISSN
0195-6167
eISSN
1533-8339
D.O.I.
10.1093/mts/mty009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The disciplines of music theory and musicology have long given highest status to the score as the site of meaning, an approach that has seen performance as a form of mediation between composer and listener. But innovative research over the last few decades—in embodiment,1 cognition,2 agency,3 performance and recordings studies,4 and performance-centered approaches to structure formation5—has encouraged music scholars to take their own embodiments, as well as specific performances or recordings, more seriously in music analysis and criticism. Arnie Cox’s work, aimed primarily at listeners, contributes to this change in approach. His new book builds on his earlier established “mimetic hypothesis,”6 and draws on George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s conceptual metaphor theory.7 It is an exploration of how we feel, experience, and conceptualize music. Cox draws attention to musical concepts that are entrenched in our discourses, but that are, objectively speaking, inaudible: pitch height, musical motion, musical tension, striving melodies, leaps, and so forth. Such properties of musical meaning, while often attributed to “the music,” are shown to emerge through listeners’ embodied participations or co-performances. Drawing on linguistics, cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy, Cox’s multifaceted theory takes into account different types of music, different peoples’ experiences, and different musical contexts. The book is in three parts. In Part 1, Cox introduces the principal processes involved in the comprehension and conceptualization of music. Chapters 1–2 (“Mimetic Comprehension”; “Mimetic Comprehension of Music”) outline the “mimetic hypothesis,” which explains how we “feel” music and how it “moves” us. Cox illustrates how imitation is central to human understanding, and that we mimic while listening to music, while recalling music in our mind, or while thinking about music more generally. He explains that our mimicking can be overt or covert, voluntary or involuntary, and conscious or nonconscious. Cox pays special attention to covert, involuntary, nonconscious mimesis, which involves mimetic motor imagery (MMI), as opposed to overt mimetic motor action (MMA). He points out that covert mimesis might be represented via activity in brain regions linked to the motor system, rather than via observable bodily activity. Cox’s explanation of how we comprehend music mimetically is, as with all his explanations throughout the book, admirably comprehensive insofar that he details the entire spectrum of possibilities—albeit in broad strokes at each turn, and in terms aimed more at the amateur than professional musician. He explains that musical sounds point to physical sources—often human actions—and that we understand music in part via covert or overt mimesis of those sources, whether seen or not seen, heard or not heard, and occurring presently, in the past, or in the future. (The imagination alone can trigger the “feel.”) As Cox explains, mimesis can be intramodal (listening to a saxophonist playing high notes, and imagining what it would be like to play those high notes on that instrument); acoustically or non-acoustically intermodal (listening to a violin melody, and either singing the melody internally or moving one’s body to the sounds and rhythms); or amodal (experiencing the abdominal exertions that nearly always support the other forms of mimesis, and which empathize with the energetic shapes of the music). Cox illustrates how the level and specific type of one’s mimetic engagement depends on several factors.8 He also shows that mimesis is particularly important when goal-directed actions are involved,9 and that mimesis can induce emotional experiences. In mimicking the production of high notes on a saxophone, for example, I might experience a sense of effort, striving, or even rage. Or in relaxing my body and muscles to the soft, unchanging sounds of a musical passage, I might experience a sense of tenderness or tranquility. And as Cox stresses throughout the book, such embodied experiences shape our conceptualizations of music, often subconsciously. He offers a wealth of evidence for the hypothesis.10 The author’s extensive use of the word “mimesis” could unintentionally throw some readers off. The term potentially suggests replicating what is already present and self-contained in “the work” or performance. But mimesis in music (and in art generally) requires that we extend what is actually present in the score, that we fill in the gaps, and that we make material meaningful for us through our imaginations. In Chapter 3 (“Metaphor and Related Means of Reasoning”), the explanation of how we conceptualize musical experience via the use of conceptual metaphor (i.e., metaphorical reasoning) is likewise remarkably thorough. We learn that the process involves understanding our abstract experience of an often invisible thing (the target domain, such as music) in terms of our more grounded, bodily experience of another thing (the source domain). We use structural patterns from the source domain in order to metaphorically understand patterns in the target domain, a process called cross-domain mapping. Structural patterns may be objective and observable, or they may have more to do with our emotional experiences. Central to metaphorical reasoning, Cox explains, are image schemas. These are abstract internal representations of a thing or concept, and of our interactions with that thing or concept. They include relevant visual, spatial, bodily, intentional, and emotional information; they are shaped by our recurring bodily experiences in everyday life; and they guide our conceptualizations of things or concepts in more abstract domains. Throughout the book, Cox gives particular attention to the path schema and container schema. The path schema, we learn, is shaped by one’s experiences of moving along paths, and by associated features such as exertion, incentive, and satisfaction. It is shaped from a young age, and is used in our conceptions of musical “lines” along which we, “the music,” or a fictional agent moves. In some cases we might imagine ourselves being moved by the music, a scenario involving a surrendering of personal agency. The container schema, in Cox’s account, is analogous to a musical “landscape.” It can refer to the containment of actual or metaphorical phenomena, serving to contain anything from an emotionally static section of sound, to a section in a particular key, to a whole musical work. Most noticeably absent in Part 1—as throughout the whole book—is a discussion of the role of performance nuances. Cox mentions elements of performance only in very broad strokes. For example, he notes, and provides evidence for, the idea that more expertise on a given instrument generally equates with a higher level of mimetic engagement when listening to that instrument. And he frequently stresses the fact that “underlying all mimetic comprehension is the correlation between musical sounds and the actions or events that produce them” (25). But this correlation is explored at the most basic of levels. (In hearing the drums, for example, we imagine someone hitting a drum.) There will be only a brief comment later in the book on the role of performance practices (207–8). This is surprising given that Cox’s theory centers round the performative (embodied) nature of all experience, and thus of all conceptualization. Web links to specific performances could have highlighted, and opened up for discussion, the vital roles of performance nuances in embodiment. And they could have pointed to the techniques of illusion performers employ as means of shaping listeners’ bodily involvements, and thus sonic worlds. Such considerations would have been useful, for example, in Cox’s explanation of the leap schema (an exertion schema and subtype of the path schema). Here, the author might have discussed the role of performance techniques in creating the feeling of a leap (or of a step), for performers can make musical “steps” feel like leaps, and musical “leaps” feel like steps. Such a performative analysis would have stressed the somewhat arbitrary nature of these musical terms. Given the number of categories and headings in Part 1 (and the book as a whole), it is also surprising Cox does not give more space to the blurry but important categories of embodying performance gestures versus embodying more general (or abstract) life gestures. For example, in many cases, performance gestures are incompatible with the abstract movements the performer or listener ascribes to the music as a moving “body.” In other cases, one often merges between, or revels in the similarities between, the two types of movements: in listening to rapid two-handed passagework in piano music, I might engage in narrow, quick, efficient bodily (but non-pianistic) movements, and would thus be grounding my conceptualization in part in the relative physical economy needed for the actual performance of such piano music. Cox gives only very brief attention to such categories later in the book (179–80). Part 2 draws on conceptual metaphor theory and the mimetic hypothesis to demonstrate how our basic musical concepts of pitch height, temporal motion, and musical motion arise. In Chapter 4 (“Pitch Height”), we learn that our understanding of pitches as “high” or “low” draws in part on metaphoric reasoning. Cox outlines the two main factors at play: the process of mimetic subvocalization,11 and the conceptual metaphor greater is higher, through which we conceive of greater quantities of a thing as being of a “higher” amount (as in “high esteem”). Grounding this metaphor, as Cox explains, is the bodily experience of engaging with a great quantity of material that accumulates vertically. He makes clear that by drawing on the source domain and its visual, spatial, bodily, intentional, and emotional information we can understand abstract concepts with greater clarity, relevance, and psychological import. For example, when I fail to understand an idea, I might express frustration by saying “it was a highfalutin idea, and it went way over my head.” I would thus be conceiving of greater complexity as higher complexity. And the experiential grounding of the metaphor (of a thing out of reach, well above my head) imbues my experience with physical and emotional meaning. As Cox elucidates, we use the greater is higher metaphor in our conceptions of pitch height in part because we subvocalize, and in doing so mimic some of the greater effort, tension, muscular activity, and tightening of the vocal cords required to reach high notes vocally. We are thus shown that our conception of pitch height emerges from our bodily participation in sound. Cox clearly outlines several factors that play into our conception of pitch height, some literal and some metaphorical. Some of these factors (such as exertion, effort, and head/chest voice) are enmeshed with one’s mimetic participation.12 Cox carefully elucidates the metaphorical nature of, and embodied grounding for, our concept of “musical motion” (Chapter 5: “Temporal Motion and Musical Motion”). As he describes, musical motion includes the idea that sounds or melodies move from place to place in musical space, both on the vertical plane (via our conceptions of pitch height) and on the horizontal plane (through time). Textural and acoustical specificities provide a sense of depth—a sense of what is closer and further away from the embodier and from other reference points. In Cox’s account, we must understand our metaphorical concepts of time moving, and of movement through time, in order to understand how musical motion works. Cox begins by exploring how concrete spatiotemporal bodily experience grounds the majority of our concepts of temporal relations. In many cultures, he points out, people think of past events as located behind them, and of future events as located ahead. We learn that such conceptions draw either on the metaphor of moving through a temporal landscape (toward future events), or on the metaphor of flowing time (where future events move toward us). With the first metaphor, sometimes called the “moving observer metaphor,” time points are static, and are reached by the observer. With the second metaphor, sometimes called the “moving time metaphor,” time is dynamic and moving toward our stationary position. Cox refers to these two metaphors as the “moving observer scenario” and the “stationary observer scenario” (116) respectively. Temporal relations do not, of course, involve locations. As Cox stresses, it is only by drawing on our concrete experience of space and movement that we can understand temporal relations in this way. According to Cox, our conception of future events as located in front of us derives from our source domain of bodily motion through space: events that we keenly anticipate (such as reaching locations or finding desired objects) tend to be located in front of our bodies, and we move toward them. The chapter then clarifies how our metaphorical conceptions of musical motion likewise draw on the source domain of spatiotemporal experience, and how we partake in some of the same psychological aspects found in the source domain, like anticipating future (sonic and participatory) events ahead of us. As a result of long established correlations between experience, location, and motion (anticipation/ahead/approach; memory/behind/departure etc.), we conceive of such things as musical departure, approach, and arrival, and thus of musical locations along a path. We do this despite there being no actual motion or space involved. Cox states that this, alongside our two metaphorical scenarios described above, provides us with concepts such as “musical events lying ahead” (moving observer scenario) or “musical events approaching” (stationary observer scenario). As the book explains, we draw on the conceptual metaphor states are locations to develop concepts of more specific musical locations. According to Cox’s account, we use this metaphor more generally to conceive of different types of states as locations in space. (I might say that I am “down in the dumps” or “on a high,” or I might be told to “snap out of it.”) And we conceive of moving to and from (or being moved to and from) these states. The greater the difference in states, the greater the “distance” between them—and hence the related metaphors change is motion and difference is distance. Motivating these metaphors, Cox tells us, is the familiar scenario of experiencing changes to our physical or psychological state when we translocate. Musically speaking, this metaphor explains our conceptions of numerous experiences, including “bathing in sound” (where little change is experienced, and where we experience one overriding emotional state as a single location), being “thrown into a distant realm” (via “distant” keys or moods etc.), or being “transported into” a new emotional sonic world (where we relinquish a sense of personal agency and conceive of the music as carrying us to a different state-location). Chapter 6 (“Perspectives on Musical Motion”) explores the role mimetic participation plays in our conceptualizations of musical motion. According to Cox’s theory of a “tripartite perspective” of listening, we can conceive of ourselves as moving observers (quasi-first-person perspective), as stationary observers within the musical landscape (second-person perspective), or as observers of the musical motion from a bird’s-eye view (quasi-third-person perspective)—three perspectives often blurred in actual musical experience. The naming of these perspectives could perhaps be more informative. The use of the word “observer” for all three perspectives downplays the performative, embodied participation involved in the quasi-first-person perspective in particular, and diminishes its contrast with the second-person perspective (which is more passive and observer-oriented in nature). Cox’s alternative to the three-part model is to view listening perspectives as existing on a continuum between “interior” and “exterior” positioning, providing us with four imaginary perspectives.13 In all cases, we conceive of movement (of “the music” or of a fictional agent) via embodied reasoning, and in part via mimetic participation. As Cox states, even the so-called exterior perspectives are informed by the bodily experiences of the respective interior perspectives. (When we see or imagine someone doing something or being in a certain situation, our understanding is grounded in our own experience of doing that thing or being in that situation).14 This chapter is thus vital in stressing that much of our conceptualization of musical agency derives from the quasi-first-person perspective of listening, which is always present in some amount. Our embodied participation—including our real or imagined movements, exertions, will, effort, and submissions—is often attributed to a fictional agent. We too, then, are agents. Cox’s contribution in this respect complements other studies of agency, such as Monahan’s (2013) model of hierarchical levels of agency as they recur in music-theoretical writings. Given his emphasis on the illusory aspects of musical motion, it would have been illuminating to devote some attention in Part 2 of the book to the often illusory nature of sonic movement between pitches. Missing is a consideration of imagined, supplemental sound—a musical feature shaped largely by performance.15 In the case of tonal music, the sense of a fictional agent (or embodier) moving toward and/or beyond stable melodic points, with or against musical “forces,” can create a huge variety of types of motion, tension and release between and through tones.16 Crucially, though, the embodied sense of a gravitational field through which we gesture does not rely fully on tonal and metrical relationships and on relative degrees of stability; it also relies on performers’ techniques of illusion.17 And different embodiments (of different performances of the same music) can then radically change our experiential sense of time.18 In Part 3 of the book, Cox uses conceptual metaphor theory and the mimetic hypothesis to explain the emergence of musical affect. He thus draws attention to the problems of talking about “the music,” as if it were an objective, given fact. Chapter 7 (“Music and the External Senses”) explores how, in conceptualizing knowledge and understanding as concepts, we use all five senses as source domains—seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting. (I might say: “that plan smells fishy”; “I have a firm grasp of the concept”; or “the answer unfolded before me.”) However, as Cox underscores, information from some domains is privileged in our conceptualizations of knowledge and understanding. Cox points to the domain of sight, because our level of visual control (in terms of how we use or don’t use vision) is particularly high, and because visual stimuli are available all around us. He focuses on two prominent metaphors: knowing is seeing (I might say “I see what you mean”) and understanding is grasping (I might say “I have a good grasp of the subject,” or “I get it now”). Cox convincingly argues that this privileging of seeing and grasping metaphors problematizes our understanding of musical concepts. The domain of hearing is seldom used in English as a way of conceptualizing knowledge. (In daily life, hearing affords relatively little volition and is associated with relatively low availability of stimuli.) And it is shown that by resorting to our seeing and grasping metaphors for understanding musical concepts, we tend to visualize and objectify music in the form of scores, graphic analyses, sonic visualizations of recordings, and so forth. This takes for granted the often invisible packets of embodied information that our musical concepts rely on from the start. One ramification, Cox suggests, is that analysis privileges those aspects of music (pitch, rhythm) that are most easily made into simple images. This phenomenon also explains why we might feel a sense of wonder or ephemerality while listening to music: Cox shows how our privileging of seeing and grasping metaphors leaves us vulnerable to sounds, which are invisible and untouchable. This is an excellent counter-argument to those who argue that musical concepts are objective facts, not grounded in embodiment. Cox uses an aspect of embodiment and conceptual metaphor theory to explain why music might “appear” to be this way, at least at first “glance.” Chapter 8 (“Musical Affect”) draws our attention to how various elements of musical affect have an often overlooked mimetic component, and how the bodily basis for our musical concepts (such as musical motion and pitch height) imbues our experience of music with an emotional quality from the start. One element of musical affect identified by Cox is anticipation, which includes not just predicting or anticipating what is to come, but also what one (as the embodier) is about to do or feel. For me, this goes some way in explaining why we become attached to beloved, familiar recordings—because we are rewarded by being able to engage our bodies in perfect accordance with the sounds (performance nuances) we know to be forthcoming. Another element of affect considered in this chapter is expression. As listeners, we don’t simply “receive” expressions or emotions in “the music.” Rather, as Cox emphasizes, there is a quasi-first-person listening component. Indeed, this component is often overlooked in other authors’ discussions of musical emotion. Cox offers frameworks for applying ideas presented in the book, particularly ideas on musical affect, in Chapter 9 (“Applications”). The tendency to over-categorize is especially prevalent here, where the author sets up a “5 × 8 framework” to account for how musical affect is created. The framework is based on the eight elements of musical affect (discussed in Chapter 8) and the five basic elements of sound—pitch, duration, timbre, strength, and location. Cox then states that there are four ways to apply this 5 × 8 framework,19 and that there are two ways in which to proceed.20 Here was Cox’s chance to engage in the phenomenological description I had been waiting for. But lacking from the few musical examples and analyses are detailed accounts of Cox’s embodied experiences. This misses an opportunity to highlight an important fact revealed through this kind of work—that different people hear the same piece (and even the same performance) differently, and that they draw on different metaphors in different ways, and consequently form different meanings. Cox sets the scene for a detailed account of his experience of the opening of Webern’s Op. 5, No. 4 (202–8), but resorts to repeating general comments about mimetic (sub)vocalization and movement. Then, in his discussion of “Dido’s Lament,” he writes that “my experience of this recitative is more subtle than this description” (217), but does not describe how. The lack of detailed phenomenological description is all the more surprising given his elaborate “5 × 8 framework,” which begs for detailed accounts. In Chapter 10 (“Review and Implications”), Cox concludes by reviewing the main ideas of the theory, and by offering suggestions for how aspects of it can be used in the classroom (for example, by asking students why we use the terms “high” and “low” notes, and by asking students if musical tones have the volition we imply they do in common parlance). Such pedagogical suggestions are well received. Most students arrive at university having never questioned the traditional, “objective” truths about music. Many performance students, I find, are aware of the embodied and metaphorical nature of musical concepts. But even these students tend to resort to another, more traditional mode of explanation when they first come into the theory classroom. This, I believe, is a symptom of the sidelining of performance from musical scholarship. But embodiment theory is one way forward, for we are all embodiers, and we are thus all performers. This is an essential book because it covers, in detail, the most basic underpinnings of our systems of meaning formation and conceptualization. I have summarized much of the book because it contains important material that, while perhaps obvious to many, has yet to be fully assimilated into many areas of music theory and musicology. Again, this is in large part because of the divide between music performance and music scholarship. For most of the ideas in this book have been part of performance pedagogy for centuries. In performance lessons, students have long explored ways of “being” the music, imagined themselves as musical agents, positioned themselves in more active or more passive ways within a static or moving musical landscape, and considered how their performance gestures relate to more abstract “musical” gestures. The concept of subvocalization has likewise been taught for centuries in performance circles.21 As Seymour Bernstein wrote in 1981, “I experience all piano playing in my vocal cords, and, as I have discovered, so do many other pianists.”22 In many ways, performance is far ahead of music theory in its understanding of embodiment. There are two notable omissions in this book. The first, as I have mentioned throughout the review, is a detailed consideration of the role of performance. Performers do not simply “realize, shape, and/or extend the mimetic invitation” (47); they can invent it. To embody is to perform, and so the disengagement with performance studies is immediately evident. And a summary of past and present thought in musical performance would have served as further evidence for the principles of Cox’s theory. The second aspect is a detailed description of embodied musical experience. With no precise phenomenological accounts, one of the most important outcomes of this type of work is not fully realized—i.e., the demonstration that each of our very personal embodiments shape the different ways each of us conceptualizes “the music,” whether our concern be with musical structure, emotion, or any other musical feature. Thus, while the book aims to explain how music “gets under our skin,” it only goes so far. In attempting to cover the widest array of musical experiences, Cox spreads the theoretical blanket over numerous but elementary aspects of musical experience and conceptualization, leaving room for future studies to explore more deeply the sensuous and magical world of musical experience. One research avenue opened up by this book is a study of more specific “modes of embodiment.” While Cox has brilliantly demonstrated how and why we share basic habits of conceptualization in the Western art music tradition (pitch height, musical motion etc.), it is also true that over time, as well as across different musical subcultures, we have accumulated many different but relatively intersubjective modes of embodiment, as evidenced in writings about music and performance.23 Different people can embody the same performance in different modes of embodiment, each of which prioritizes different image schemas to different extents and in different ways. This gap between shared fundamentals and differing embodied attitudes requires further study. Strikingly apparent throughout this book is Cox’s careful and scientific approach to theorizing the basic processes involved in listening to, conceptualizing, and being “moved” by, music. I will use this book as one of two texts in my upper-level seminar (“Music Performance and Embodiment Studies”) next year. Its availability as an ebook for institutional use makes it even more attractive. This is an impressive and invaluable book, and one I am sure scholars from numerous fields will be citing for years to come. Footnotes 1 Cumming (2001), Godøy (2010), Leman (2008, 2010), and Mead (1999). 2 Zbikowski (2002). 3 Maus (1997) and Monahan (2013). 4 Cook (2014). 5 Rink (1990). 6 Cox (2011). 7 Johnson (1987) and Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 1999). 8 These include one’s interest in the performance, whether or not one plays the instrument heard, one’s level of expertise on a given or related instrument, and the context of the performance. 9 As Cox illustrates, the goals can be “musical” (such as a melodic apex or important downbeat arrival), performer-centered (such as a difficult, wide leap on the keyboard), or both. 10 Evidence comes, for example, from psychological studies showing mimetic engagement in parent-infant and other relationships, from neurological studies of “mirrored” brain activity during the observation of others, from studies revealing mimetic engagement in listening to speech, from studies pointing to the activation of similar neural and motor systems in both listening to and imagining song, and from studies showing mimetic engagement in listening to instrumental music (dependent on the level of instrumental expertise of the listener). 11 As Cox illustrates, mimetic subvocalization often draws on the conceptual metaphor instrumental sounds are vocal sounds. 12 For example, he explains that through mimetic subvocalization we feel some of what it feels like for lower notes to induce more resonance in the chest and higher notes to induce more resonance in the head. 13 These are: a “moving observer/interior perspective” (where we participate actively in the movement along a musical path); a “stationary observer/interior perspective” (where we position ourselves as stationary and passive within a landscape of moving musical events); a “moving observer/exterior perspective” (where we observe the motion of an interior agent from a bird’s-eye perspective of the musical landscape); and a “stationary observer/exterior perspective” (where we observe the stationary position of an interior agent, as the musical structure passes it by, from a bird’s-eye perspective). 14 This raises questions about the exact nature and utility of Cox’s four perspectives. The distinction between “exterior” and “interior” perspectives seems to lie largely on the amount of non-present musical material (especially future events) the embodier considers at once. But in terms of hearing or imagining music in real time, the distinction between “exterior” and “interior” perspectives seems to dissolve. 15 Robb (2015a). Imagined, supplemental sounds are the sounds we “perform” internally (even during a sounding performance). They are not merely the internal mimicking of real sounds, as in Cox’s model of mimetic subvocalization. Performers’ actual sounds shape our embodiments, which in turn shape our imagined (supplemental) and/or filtered sounds. Associating particular performance nuances with particular performance movements and/or particular abstract movements affects the imagined sound one “hears” internally. For example, if I draw on my knowledge of how my body moves through space in order to conceive of a “musical line,” I might imagine the sound required to “move” through “musical space.” Fluid, dynamic sound—such as sliding pitch or gradually thickening or thinning sonic energy—might clarify and enrich my conception of how pitches get from one “place” to another. One’s imagined, supplemental sound will vary in level and type, depending on the performance nuances involved, as well as on one’s mode of embodiment. In my article, I provide an abridged historical and contemporary account of the topic as it relates to piano music, and as it is described in pedagogical and critical writings. 16 Larson (2012) and Hatten (2012). 17 Robb (2015a). 18 Robb (2015b). 19 These are: focusing on single events; on features; on events that recur; and on the relationship between sound and extramusical elements in the case of music with text or images. 20 These are: to go from sound to response, or to go from response back to the likely sonic source. 21 Robb (2015a). 22 Bernstein (1981, 120). 23 Robb (2015b). Works cited Bernstein Seymour. 1981 . With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery through Music . New York : Schirmer . Cook Nicholas. 2014 . Beyond the Score: Music as Performance . Oxford and New York : Oxford University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Cox Arnie. 2011 . “Embodying Music: Principles of the Mimetic Hypothesis.” Music Theory Online 17 ( 2 ). Cumming Naomi. 2001 . The Sonic Self: Musical Subjectivity and Signification. Bloomington : Indiana University Press . Godøy Rolf Inge. 2010 . “Gestural Affordances of Musical Sound.” In Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning . Ed. Gødoy Rolf Inge , Leman Marc . 103 – 25 . New York : Routledge . Hatten Robert. 2012 . “Musical Forces and Agential Energies: An Expansion of Steve Larson’s Model.” Music Theory Online 18 ( 3 ). Johnson Mark. 1987 . The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason . Chicago : University of Chicago Press . Lakoff George , Johnson Mark . 1980 . Metaphors We Live By. Chicago : University of Chicago Press . ———. 1999 . Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought . New York : Basic Books . Larson Steve. 2012 . Musical Forces. Bloomington : Indiana University Press . Leman Marc. 2008 . Embodied Music Cognition and Mediation Technology . Cambridge, MA : MIT Press . ———. 2010 . “Music, Gesture, and the Formation of Embodied Meaning.” In Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning . Ed. Godøy Rolf Inge , Leman Marc . 126 – 53 . New York : Routledge . Maus Fred Everett. 1997 . “Music as Drama.” In Music & Meaning . Ed. Robinson Jenefer . 105 – 30 . Ithaca : Cornell University Press . Mead Andrew. 1999 . “Bodily Hearing: Physiological Metaphors and Musical Understanding.” Journal of Music Theory 43 ( 1 ): 1 – 19 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Monahan Seth. 2013 . “Action and Agency Revisited.” Journal of Music Theory 57 ( 2 ): 321 – 71 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rink John. 1990 . “Review of Musical Structure and Performance by Wallace Berry.” Music Analysis 9 ( 3 ): 318 – 39 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Robb Hamish. 2015a . “Imagined, Supplemental Sound in Nineteenth-Century Piano Music: Towards a Fuller Understanding of Musical Embodiment.” Music Theory Online 21 ( 3 ). ———. 2015b . “Embodying Meaning and Imagining Sound in Nineteenth-Century Piano Music.” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University. Zbikowski Lawrence. 2002 . Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory, and Analysis . Chicago : University of Chicago Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Music Theory. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

Music Theory SpectrumOxford University Press

Published: Apr 6, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off