Musical Parameters and Children's Movement Responses

Dafna Kohn, Zohar Eitan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The effects of dynamic musical parameters (e.g., pitch rise/fall, crescendo/diminuendo) on aspects of bodily motion, such as spatial directions or speed, have recently been investigated empirically, as Eitan & Granot (2006) examined, using participants' verbal reports, how such relationships affect motion imagery. Here we examine the effects of musical parameters on actual bodily movement. 106 children (46 aged 5, 60 aged 8) heard 9 short musical stimuli (4 synthetically constructed, 5 excerpts from classical repertory) involving bi-directional changes in pitch, loudness and tempo. Participants were asked to move to each excerpt in an "appropriate way." Movement responses were videotaped, and their spatio-kinetic features analyzed independently by 3 referees (watching with sound muted), applying bi-polar categories based on Laban Movement Analysis, including spatial directions, speed and muscular energy. Results indicate that different musical parameters activate different motion dimensions: pitch changes are mainly associated with vertical motion, loudness change with both muscular energy and vertical motion, and tempo change with speed and muscular energy. The direction of change in each musical parameter was significantly associated with the direction of change in motion dimensions, e.g., increase in loudness is associated with increasing speed, increase in muscular energy, and spatial rise. While there was no age effect on the choices of movement dimensions, age did affect the choice of directions within these dimensions, particularly regarding the movement in vertical plane. This suggests a two-stage process, in which overall relationships of auditory and movement dimensions develop early, while associations of auditory and motion directions develop later.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationESCOM 2009 : Abstracts & programme
Subtitle of host publication7th triennial Conference of European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, 12th -16th August 2009, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
EditorsPäivi-Sisko Eerola
Place of Publication[Jyväskylä]
PublisherDep. of Music, Univ. of Jyväskylä
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2009


  • Motion
  • Development
  • Musical metaphor
  • Cross-modal interaction


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