Embodied meaning in musical gesture. Cross-disciplinary approaches

Christensen, E. (Speaker)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Abstract: Different approaches, methods and technologies contribute to the study of musical gesture. As every single method implies limitations of perspective and possible outcome, it is suggested that cross-disciplinary investigations will contribute to a deeper and more substantial insight into the nature of embodied meaning in musical gesture. Combinations of phenomenology, music therapy and neuroscience permit the integration of first, second and third person perspectives. Intensive listening, which is a phenomenological procedure based on multiple repeated listening, represents the first-person approach of describing the personal musical experience, as well as the second person approach of intersubjective evaluation of descriptions and interpretations of musical gestures. In expressive music therapy, musical improvisations between client and therapist integrate bodily gestures with musical and emotional expression, and audio and video recordings permit subsequent systematic analyses. In receptive music therapy based on the client’s verbal descriptions of a therapist-guided listening experience, audio recordings permit the investigation of correlations between musical gestures and experienced imagery and narrative. Neuroscience, which represents the third person perspective of investigation, has uncovered several neural functions which indicate connections between body movement and musical gesture, including activations of the premotor and supplementary motor cortex areas, the basal ganglia, and the cerebellum. The presentation will include a brief introduction to intensive listening, and a discussion of possible strategies for the integration of phenomenology, music therapy and neuroscience in practice.
Period17 Mar 201619 Mar 2016
Event titleMusical gesture as creative interface, Porto, Portugal
Event typeConference
LocationPorto, Portugal


  • Musical Gesture, Intensive Listening, Phenomenology, Music Therapy, Neuroscience