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.
The present study aims to gain better insight into the connection between music and dance by examining the dynamic effects of the bass drum on a dancing audience in a club-like environment. One hundred adult participants moved freely in groups of five to a musical sequence that comprised six songs. Each song consisted of one section that was repeated three times, each time with a different sound pressure level of the bass drum. Hip and head movements were recorded using motion capture and motion sensing. The study demonstrates that people modify their bodily behavior according to the dynamic level of the bass drum when moving to contemporary dance music in a social context. Participants moved more actively and displayed a higher degree of tempo entrainment as the sound pressure level of the bass drum increased. These results indicate that the prominence of the bass drum in contemporary dance music serves not merely as a stylistic element; indeed, it has a strong influence on dancing itself.