What Is Embodied Music Cognition?

  • Marc LemanEmail author
  • Pieter-Jan Maes
  • Luc Nijs
  • Edith Van Dyck
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


Over the past decade, embodied music cognition has become an influential paradigm in music research. The paradigm holds that music cognition is strongly determined by corporeally mediated interactions with music. They determine the way in which music can be conceived in terms of goals, directions, targets, values, and reward. The chapter gives an overview of the ontological and epistemological foundations, and it introduces the core concepts that define the character of the paradigm. This is followed by an overview of some analytical and empirical studies, which illustrate contributions of the embodied music cognition approach to major topics in musical expression, timing, and prediction processing. The chapter gives a viewpoint on a music research paradigm that is in full development, both in view of the in-depth refinement of its foundations, as well as the broadening of its scope and applications.


  1. 34.1
    R. Jackendoff, F. Lerdahl: The capacity for music: What is it, and what’s special about it?, Cognition 100(1), 33–72 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 34.2
    L. Meyer: Emotion and Meaning in Music (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago 1956)Google Scholar
  3. 34.3
    M. Jones, M. Boltz: Dynamic attending and responses to time, Psychol. Rev. 96(3), 459–491 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 34.4
    D. Huron: Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation (MIT Press, Cambridge 2006)Google Scholar
  5. 34.5
    H. Honing: Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening (Transaction Publishers, Piscataway 2011)Google Scholar
  6. 34.6
    J. Phillips-Silver, L. Trainor: Feeling the beat: Movement influences infant rhythm perception, Science 308(5727), 1430 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 34.7
    J. Phillips-Silver, L. Trainor: Hearing what the body feels: Auditory encoding and rhythmic movement, Cognition 105(3), 533–546 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 34.8
    P.-J. Maes, M. Leman: The influence of body movements on children’s perception of music with an ambiguous expressive character, PLoS One 8(1), e54682 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 34.9
    T. Fritz, S. Hardikar, M. Demoucron, M. Niessen, M. Demey, O. Giot, Y. Li, J.-D. Haynes, A. Villringer, M. Leman: Musical agency reduces perceived exertion during strenuous physical performence, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110(44), 17784–17789 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 34.10
    M. Leman: Embodied Music Cognition and Mediation Technology (MIT Press, Cambridge 2007)Google Scholar
  11. 34.11
    R. Godøy, M. Leman (Eds.): Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning (Routledge, New York 2010)Google Scholar
  12. 34.12
    T. Metzinger: Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity (MIT Press, Cambridge 2003)Google Scholar
  13. 34.13
    J. Stewart, O. Gapenne, E.A. Di Paolo (Eds.): Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2010)Google Scholar
  14. 34.14
    A. Clark: Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science, Behav. Brain Sci. 36(3), 181–204 (2013)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 34.15
    W. Prinz, M. Beisert, A. Herwig (Eds.): Action Science: Foundations of an Emerging Discipline (MIT Press, Cambridge 2013)Google Scholar
  16. 34.16
    A. Engel, A. Maye, M. Kurthen, P. König: Where’s the action? The pragmatic turn in cognitive science, Trends Cogn. Sci. 17(5), 202–209 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 34.17
    F. Picard, K. Friston: Predictions, perception, and a sense of self, Neurology 83(12), 1112–1118 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 34.18
    A. Gritten, E. King (Eds.): New Perspectives on Music and Gesture (Ashgate, London 2011)Google Scholar
  19. 34.19
    A. Gritten, E. King (Eds.): Music and Gesture (Ashgate, London 2006)Google Scholar
  20. 34.20
    A. Truslit: Gestaltung und Bewegung in der Musik (CF Vieweg, Berlin–Lichterfelde 1938)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 34.21
    E. Jaques-Dalcroze: Rhythm, Music and Education (Putnam’s Sons, New York 1921)Google Scholar
  22. 34.22
    T. Lipps: Grundlegung der Ästhetik (Leopold Voss, Leipzig 1903)Google Scholar
  23. 34.23
    G. Becking, N. Nettheim: How Musical Rhythm Reveals Human Attitudes (Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2011)Google Scholar
  24. 34.24
    T. Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 34.25
    E. Bigand, C. Delbé, B. Poulin-Charronnat, M. Leman, B. Tillmann: Empirical evidence for musical syntax processing? Computer simulations reveal the contribution of auditory short-term memory, Front. Syst. Neurosci. 8(94), 1–27 (2014)Google Scholar
  26. 34.26
    B. Sievers, L. Polansky, M. Casey, T. Wheatley: Music and movement share a dynamic structure that supports universal expressions of emotion, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110(1), 70–75 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 34.27
    P. Toiviainen, G. Luck, M.R. Thompson: Embodied meter: Hierarchical eigenmodes in music-induced movement, Music Percept. 28(1), 59–70 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 34.28
    M. Leman, L. Naveda: Basic gestures as spatiotemporal reference frames for repetitive dance/music patterns in samba and charleston, Music Percept. 28(1), 71–91 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 34.29
    L. Naveda, M. Leman: The spatiotemporal representation of dance and music gestures using topological gesture analysis (TGA), Music Percept. 28(1), 93–111 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 34.30
    P.-J. Maes, M. Leman, C. Palmer, M. Wanderley: Action-based effects on music perception, Front. Psychol. 4(1008), 1–14 (2014)Google Scholar
  31. 34.31
    B. Moens, M. Leman: Alignment strategies for the entrainment of music and movement rhythms, Ann. New York Acad. Sci. 1337(1), 86–93 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 34.32
    P.-J. Maes, M. Wanderley, C. Palmer: The role of working memory in the temporal control of discrete and continuous movements, Exp. Brain Res. 233(1), 263–273 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 34.33
    T. Cochrane, B. Fantini, K. Scherer (Eds.): The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2013)Google Scholar
  34. 34.34
    R. MacDonald, G. Kreutz, L. Mitchell: Music, Health, and Wellbeing (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 34.35
    B. Koen, J. Lloyd, G. Barz, K. Brummel-Smith (Eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2011)Google Scholar
  36. 34.36
    A. Kirke, E. Miranda (Eds.): Guide to Computing for Expressive Music Performance (Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin 2013)Google Scholar
  37. 34.37
    M. Arbib (Ed.): Language, Music, and the Brain: A Mysterious Relationship (MIT Press, Cambridge 2013)Google Scholar
  38. 34.38
    S. Koelsch: Brain correlates of music-evoked emotions, Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 15(3), 170–180 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 34.39
    R. Zatorre, V. Salimpoor: From perception to pleasure: Music and its neural substrates, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110(Suppl. 2), 10430–10437 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 34.40
    V. Salimpoor, I. van den Bosch, N. Kovacevic, A. McIntosh, A. Dagher, R. Zatorre: Interactions between the nucleus accumbens and auditory cortices predict music reward value, Science 340(6129), 216–219 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 34.41
    M. Leman, L. Nijs: Music cognition and technology – Enhanced learning for music playing. In: The Routledge Companion to Music, Technology and Education, ed. by A. King, A. Ruthmann, E. Himonides (Routledge, New York 2015)Google Scholar
  42. 34.42
    M. Leman: An auditory model of the role of short-term memory in probe-tone ratings, Music Percept. 17(4), 481–509 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 34.43
    E. Large, F. Almonte: Neurodynamics, tonality, and the auditory brainstem response, Ann. New York Acad. Sci. 1252(1), E1–E7 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 34.44
    G. Bidelman, J. Grall: Functional organization for musical consonance and tonal pitch hierarchy in human auditory cortex, NeuroImage 101, 204–214 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 34.45
    F. Styns, L. Van Noorden, D. Moelants, M. Leman: Walking on music, Hum. Mov. Sci. 26(5), 769–785 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 34.46
    L. Naveda, M. Leman: A cross-modal heuristic for periodic pattern analysis of samba music and dance, J. New Music Res. 38(3), 255–283 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 34.47
    E. Van Dyck, P. Vansteenkiste, M. Lenoir, M. Lesaffre, M. Leman: Recognizing induced emotions of happiness and sadness from dance movement, PLoS One 9(2), e89773 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 34.48
    E. Kurth: Musikpsychologie (Krompholz, Bern 1947)Google Scholar
  49. 34.49
    A. Wellek: Musikpsychologie und Musikästhetik: Grundriss der systematischen Musikwissenschaft (Bouvier, Bonn 1982)Google Scholar
  50. 34.50
    P. Schaeffer: Traité des Objets Musicaux: Essai Interdisciplines (Seuil, Paris 1977)Google Scholar
  51. 34.51
    W. Coker: Music & Meaning: A Theoretical Introduction to Musical Aesthetics (Free Press, New York 1972)Google Scholar
  52. 34.52
    J. Broeckx: Muziek, Ratio en Affect: Over de Wisselwerking van Rationeel Denken en Affectief Beleven bij Voortbrengst en Ontvangst van Muziek (Metropolis, Antwerp 1981)Google Scholar
  53. 34.53
    M. Merleau-Ponty: Phénoménologie de la Perception (Gallimard, Paris 1969)Google Scholar
  54. 34.54
    M. Leman, P.-J. Maes: Music perception and embodied music cognition. In: The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition, ed. by L. Shapiro (Routledge, New York 2014) pp. 81–89Google Scholar
  55. 34.55
    M. Leman, P.-J. Maes: The role of embodiment in the perception of music, Empir. Musicol. Rev. 9(3/4), 236–246 (2014)Google Scholar
  56. 34.56
    A. Camurri, G. Volpe, G. de Poli, M. Leman: Communicating expressiveness and affect in multimodal interactive systems, IEEE Multimed. 12(1), 43–53 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 34.57
    R. Godøy: Gestural affordances of musical sound. In: Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning, ed. by R. Godøy, M. Leman (Routledge, New York 2010) pp. 103–125Google Scholar
  58. 34.58
    J. Krueger: Affordances and the musically extended mind, Front. Psychol. 4(1003), 1–13 (2013)Google Scholar
  59. 34.59
    L. Henbing, M. Leman: A gesture-based typology of sliding-tones in guqin music, J. New Music Res. 36(2), 61–82 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 34.60
    H. Penttinen, J. Pakarinen, V. Valimaki, M. Laurson, H. Li, M. Leman: Model-based sound synthesis of the guqin, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 120(6), 4052–4063 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 34.61
    H. Penttinen, J. Pakarinen, V. Vlimki, M. Laurson, M. Kuuskankare, H. Li, M. Leman: Aspects on physical modeling of a chinese string instrument – The guqin. In: Proc. 9th Int. Congr. Acoust (2007) pp. 2–7Google Scholar
  62. 34.62
    R. Godøy: Quantal elements in musical experience. In: Sound–Perception–Performance, Current Research in Systematic Musicology, ed. by R. Bader (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2013) pp. 113–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 34.63
    R. Godøy: Understanding coarticulation in music. In: Sound, Music, and Motion, ed. by M. Aramaki, O. Derrien, R. Kronland-Martinet, S. Ystad (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2013)Google Scholar
  64. 34.64
    C. Palmer: Music performance, Annu. Rev. Psychol. 48(1), 115–138 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 34.65
    B. Vines, C. Krumhansl, M. Wanderley, D. Levitin: Cross-modal interactions in the perception of musical performance, Cognition 101(1), 80–113 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 34.66
    F. Desmet, L. Nijs, M. Demey, M. Lesaffre, J.-P. Martens, M. Leman: Assessing a clarinet player’s performer gestures in relation to locally intended musical targets, J. New Music Res. 41(1), 31–48 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 34.67
    D. Amelynck: The Analysis of Bodily Gestures in Response to Music: Methods for Embodied Music Cognition Based on Machine Learning, Ph. D. Thesis (Ghent University, Ghent 2014)Google Scholar
  68. 34.68
    B. Burger, M. Thompson, G. Luck, S. Saarikallio, P. Toiviainen: Hunting for the beat in the body: On period and phase locking in music-induced movement, Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8(903), 1–16 (2014)Google Scholar
  69. 34.69
    B. Repp, Y.-H. Su: Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of recent research (2006–2012), Psychon. Bull. Rev. 20(3), 403–452 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 34.70
    E. Van Dyck, D. Moelants, M. Demey, A. Deweppe, P. Coussement, M. Leman: The impact of the bass drum on human dance movement, Music Percept. 30(4), 349–359 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 34.71
    B. Burger, M.R. Thompson, G. Luck, S. Saarikallio, P. Toiviainen: Influences of rhythm- and timbre-related musical features on characteristics of music-induced movement, Front. Psychol. 4(183), 1–10 (2013)Google Scholar
  72. 34.72
    B. Moens, C. Muller, L. van Noorden, M. Franěk, B. Celie, J. Boone, J. Bourgois, M. Leman: Encouraging spontaneous synchronisation with D-Jogger, an adaptive music player that aligns movement and music, PLoS One 9(12), 40 (2014)Google Scholar
  73. 34.73
    L. Van Noorden, D. Moelants: Resonance in the perception of musical pulse, J. New Music Res. 28(1), 43–66 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 34.74
    M. Leman, D. Moelants, M. Varewyck, F. Styns, L. van Noorden, J.-P. Martens: Activating and relaxing music entrains the speed of beat synchronized walking, PloS One 8(7), e67932 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 34.75
    L. Van Noorden, L. De Bruyn, R. Van Noorden, M. Leman: Embodied social synchronization in children's musical development. In: The Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction, ed. by M. Lesaffre, P.-J. Maes, M. Leman (Routledge, New York 2017) pp. 195–204Google Scholar
  76. 34.76
    S. Schütz-Bosbach, W. Prinz: Perceptual resonance: Action-induced modulation of perception, Trends Cogn. Sci. 11(8), 349–355 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 34.77
    J.K. Witt: Action’s effect on perception, Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 20(3), 201–206 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 34.78
    V. Halász, R. Cunnington: Unconscious effects of action on perception, Brain Sci. 2(2), 130–146 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. 34.79
    E. Van Dyck, P.-J. Maes, J. Hargreaves, M. Lesaffre, M. Leman: Expressing induced emotions through free dance movement, J. Nonverbal Behav. 37(3), 175–190 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 34.80
    M. Varewyck, J.-P. Martens, M. Leman: Musical meter classification with beat synchronous acoustic features, DFT-based metrical features and support vector machines, J. New Music Res. 42(3), 267–282 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 34.81
    L. Nijs, M. Leman: Interactive technologies in the instrumental music classroom: A longitudinal study with the music paint machine, Comput. Educat. 73(2014), 40–59 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 34.82
    M. Lesaffre, L. Nijs, M. Leman: Interacting with music mediation technology for hearing impaired – First tests with normal hearing subjects. In: Proc. 2009 Eur. Soc. Cogn. Sci. Music Conf. (ESCOM) (2009)Google Scholar
  83. 34.83
    O. Elschek: Die Musikforschung der Gegenwart (Stiglmayr, Wien-Föhrenau 1992)Google Scholar
  84. 34.84
    M. Leman, A. Schneider: Origin and nature of cognitive and systematic musicology: An introduction. In: Music, Gestalt, and Computing-Studies in Cognitive and Systematic Musicology, ed. by M. Leman (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 1997) pp. 13–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 34.85
    P.-J. Maes, D. Amelynck, M. Lesaffre, D. Arvind, M. Leman: The ``Conducting Master'': An interactive, real-time gesture monitoring system based on spatiotemporal motion templates, Int. J. Hum.-Comput. Interact. 29(7), 471–487 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. 34.86
    P.-J. Maes, D. Amelynck, M. Leman: Dance-the-Music: An educational platform for the modeling, recognition and audiovisual monitoring of dance steps using spatiotemporal motion templates, EURASIP J. Adv. Signal Process. 2012(35), 1–16 (2012)Google Scholar
  87. 34.87
    L. Nijs, P. Coussement, B. Moens, D. Amelynck, M. Lesaffre, M. Leman: Interacting with the music paint machine: Relating the constructs of flow experience and presence, Interact. Comput. 24(4), 237–250 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. 34.88
    P.-J. Maes, M. Leman, K. Kochman, M. Lesaffre, M. Demey: The ``One-Person-Choir'': A multidisciplinary approach to the development of an embodied human–computer interface, Comput. Music J. 35(2), 22–35 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. 34.89
    B. Moens, L. van Noorden, M. Leman: D-Jogger: Syncing music with walking. In: Proc. SMC Conf. 2010, Barcelona (Universidad Pompeu Fabra) (2010) pp. 451–456Google Scholar
  90. 34.90
    M. Leman, M. Demey, M. Lesaffre, L. van Noorden, D. Moelants: Concepts, technology and assessment of the social music game ``Sync-in-Team''. In: Proc. 2009 Int. Conf. Comput. Sci. Eng., Vol. 4, ed. by J. Calder (IEEE Computer Society, Vancouver 2009) pp. 837–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. 34.91
    M. Demey, C. Müller, M. Leman: DanSync: A platform to study entrainment and joint-action during spontaneous dance in the context of a social music game. In: INTETAIN 2013, Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, Vol. 124, ed. by M. Mancas, N. d’Alessandro, X. Siebert, B. Gosselin, C. Valderrama, T. Dutoit (Springer, Mons 2013) pp. 124–135Google Scholar
  92. 34.92
    M. Clayton, B. Dueck, L. Leante (Eds.): Experience and Meaning in Music Performance (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2013)Google Scholar
  93. 34.93
    N. Moran: Music, bodies and relationships: An ethnographic contribution to embodied cognition studies, Psychol. Music 41(1), 5–17 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. 34.94
    F. Bonini-Baraldi: Tsiganes, Musique et Empathie (Editions de la maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris 2013)Google Scholar
  95. 34.95
    M. Rahaim: Musicking Bodies: Gesture and Voice in Hindustani Music (Wesleyan Univ. Press, Middletown 2012)Google Scholar
  96. 34.96
    E. Wilf: School for Cool: The Academic Jazz Program and the Paradox of Institutionalized Creativity (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. 34.97
    M. Leman: The Expressive Moment: How Interaction (with Music) Shapes Human Empowerment (MIT Press, Cambridge 2016)Google Scholar
  98. 34.98
    M. Lesaffre, P.-J. Maes, M. Leman (Eds.): The Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction (Routledge, New York 2017)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Leman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pieter-Jan Maes
    • 2
  • Luc Nijs
    • 3
  • Edith Van Dyck
    • 4
  1. 1.IPEM – Musicology, Department of Art, Music and Theatre SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.IPEM – Musicology, Department of Art, Music and Theatre SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.IPEM – Musicology, Department of Art, Music and Theatre SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.IPEM – Musicology, Department of Art, Music and Theatre SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations