Musical Parameters and Children's Images of motion

Zohar Eitan, Nurit Tubul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Eitan & Granot (2006) investigated, using a visuokinetic imagery task, how adult listeners associate changes in musical parameters with bodily motion in physical space. Their results indicate that musical parameters significantly affect several dimensions of motion imagery. For instance, pitch contour affected imagined motion along all three spatial axes (not only verticality), as well as velocity and “energy.” In addition, surprising directional asymmetries were found, as a musical change in one direction often evoked a significantly stronger spatial analogy than its opposite (e.g., the association of pitch direction and verticality applies mostly to pitch falls, rather than rises). This study examines whether Eitan & Granot's findings also apply to children, replicating their experiment with sixty 6 and 11 years old participants. As in the earlier study, participants were asked to associate melodic stimuli with imagined motions of a human character, and to specify the type, directions, energy level and pace change of these motions. The musical stimuli, selected from those in Eitan and Granot, consisted of pairs of brief musical figures, one member of a pair presenting an “intensification” in a specific musical parameter, the other an “abatement” (e.g., crescendo vs. diminuendo, accelerando vs. ritardando). Musical parameters manipulated included dynamics (loudness), pitch contour, and attack rate (IOI). Comparison of results with those of non-musician adults in Eitan and Granot suggests that several music-motion associations (expectedly, dynamics and distance, pitch and verticality, IOI and speed) were shared by adults and children. In addition, some of the asymmetries reported for adults were also found for children. However, unlike adults, children of both age groups relate sound and motion primarily through changes in loudness. Loudness is associated not only with distance, but with verticality, speed, and energy. In contrast, pitch contour and IOI evoke fewer and weaker spatio-kinetic associations in children, as compared to adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-111
Number of pages23
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Issue number2_suppl
StatePublished - 2010


  • Psychology
  • Experimental
  • Social Sciences
  • Music
  • Arts & Humanities


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