The Kinematics of Musical Expression in the Spatiotemporal Dimension

Steven Livingstone


During performance, musicians are known to move their bodies in rhythmic and expressive displays. Buck, MacRitchie, and Bailey’s intriguing article aims to show that these visual gestures reflect a musician’s expressive interpretation of the composition and underlying phrasal structure. I briefly discuss three issues that may be taken into account when interpreting musicians’ reported movements. First, performers’ movements were interpreted as reflecting ancillary movements that are not associated with sound generation. However, these movements may not be as dissociable from sound-producing motor movements as is suggested. Second, differences in performers’ movements may be interpreted in the context of individual differences in expressive timing of expert musicians. Third, the periodic nature of performers’ motion profiles may lend themselves to frequency-based analyses that may reveal an underlying musical ‘pulse’ or pulses of the performer.


visual / expressive performance; motion; phrasing; time series

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2013 Steven Livingstone

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Beginning with Volume 7, No 3-4 (2012), Empirical Musicology Review is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license

Empirical Musicology Review is published by The Ohio State University Libraries.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact

ISSN: 1559-5749