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Music and shape

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)472-479
Number of pages8
Issue number3
PublishedSep 2013

King's Authors


Musicians and other music professionals often use the notion of shape when they talk or think about musical performances, and yet, until recently, there has been little research into what shape actually refers to. ‘Shaping music in performance’, a research project based in the Music Department at King’s College London and part of the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice, has been established to investigate music and shape from different perspectives, applying a broad variety of methods and analytical tools. In this article, I report findings from my first study in which I asked seventy-three musicians and non-musicians to visualize sound and music by creating representations with an electronic graphics tablet. Using four selected participants from various artistic backgrounds (none/music/visual/dance), I examine differences between drawings produced in two experimental conditions (‘performance’, whereby participants drew with the sound and ‘contemplation’, whereby participants drew after the sound) that exemplify some of the broader findings. These include the greater consistency of musicians compared with non-musicians and the more diverse representation strategies of non-musicians, as well as non-musicians’ neglect of temporal aspects of pitch. It is argued that studying the basic acoustical properties of music cross-modally provides a valuable source of a better understanding of the phenomenon of music and shape.

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