The embodied perspective on music cognition has stressed the central role of the body and body movements in musical meaning formation processes. In the present study, we investigate by means of a behavioral experiment how free body movements in response to music (i.e., action) can be linked to specific linguistic, metaphorical descriptions people use to describe the expressive qualities they perceive in the music (i.e., perception). We introduce a dimensional model based on the Effort/Shape theory of Laban in order to target musical expressivity from an embodied perspective. Also, we investigate whether a coupling between action and perception is dependent on the musical background of the participants (i.e., trained versus untrained). The results show that the physical appearance of the free body movements that participants perform in response to music are reliably linked to the linguistic descriptions of musical expressiveness in terms of the underlying quality. Moreover, this result is found to be independent of the participants’ musical background.

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