Music-making hands have drawn considerable scholarly attention, featuring prominently in recent investigations in biomechanics, paleoanthropology, and cognitive sciences. Yet already in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, piano pedagogy theories were evolving not only in response to changing musical styles but also to scientific conceptualizations of the human body. Taking piano-playing hands as a platform for human/machine interaction, this article analyzes the historical discourse on piano-playing hands in relation to the contemporary scientific context and via the framework of cognitive science. In this process, these scientific and pedagogical writings, which have been previously discussed only dispersedly and marginally, emerge as more than didactic instruction. This historical discourse on music psychology of piano-playing hands points to music cognition that is extended beyond the body, situated in activity, and distributed beyond the individual.
Music Psychology of the Piano-Playing Hands in Historical Discourse
Youn Kim is associate professor of music at the University of Hong Kong. She holds a PhD in music theory from Columbia University. Her research interests include the history of music theory, the psychology of music, and the interrelationship between music theory and the science of the mind. Her research has been published in journals including Psychology of Music, Journal of Musicological Research, Scientific Reports, and PLOS One. She recently co-edited with Sander L. Gilman The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body. Kim is currently working on a monograph, “Body and Force in Music: Metaphoric Constructions in Music Psychology?,” forthcoming with Routledge.
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Youn Kim; Music Psychology of the Piano-Playing Hands in Historical Discourse. Journal of Musicology 1 January 2021; 38 (1): 32–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2021.38.1.32
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