Linguistic communication is generally thought of as a one-way process in which the listener infers the speaker's meaning from the speech signal (Clark, 1996). Vincent Cacialano in his book, “What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body”, he claims that:

”.. body movement helps each individual to connect to themselves and others, learning crucial information about the body, that supports all aspects of movement. It facilitates a deeper sense of body, movement, and spatial awareness. That involves tuning the body, connecting to our center and out to the periphery, working through gentle movement and directed attention we improve and enhance posture, ease of movement, and over-all human-body functioning. We also explore ideas that are very physical, enhancing ones awareness of space and movement with others. The work incorporates explorations that work to release tension, improve movement-coordination, strength and flexibility, moving with others, inventing movement spontaneously, and developing our relationship to space and time/composition.”


From the above quote it is clear that every musician should aim to improve their quality on attention and being aware of theirsenses in order to better integrate their musical intention with the appropriate movement. Vincent Cacialano  outlinessome of the major benefits being:


  • Exploring the connection between movement and the communication of structure and emotion in music
  • Training our attention for a quality of inclusive awareness
  • Body Mapping as a basis for changing and organizing movement
  • Cultivating sensory awareness with an emphasis on our kinesthetic sense
  • Standing and sitting in balance from a biomechanical perspective
  • Organizing sequential and rotational movements of the whole arm— from the shoulder blade through to the elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers
  • Freeing up a natural breath for singing and playing any instrument by exploring the structures and movement of breathing
  • Using the movement at hip, knee, ankle joints for a holistic awareness of the support and movement of the whole body when making music
  • Applying Body Mapping concepts in a masterclass setting


 Kronman and Sundberg (1987) did a study about music and movement where they compared timing properties of retardation in music performance. This was done specifically in performances referred to as “motor music”, where a model for deceleration was based on a runner slowing down to a full stop. They found that the amount of time a musician takes in musical ritardando matched exactly with the timing of the physical movement of a runner slowing down to a full stop. They also found that this manner of deceleration can also be applied not only to musical expression, but also to body movement1..

Similarly, Eric Clarke says “the relationship between music and motion is truly perceptual rather than metaphorical, symbolic or analogical” (Clarke, 2005; p 74). However this raises the question about what is moving, and in what kind of space? This role of this has been further pointed out by many authors – for example by Shove and Repp (1995) and Godoy (2001).





If we apply the fundamental notion of ecological theory/motor of perception that perception is imagined action (Berthoz, 200), that perception of sound involves imagining or simulating the actions that produced the sound, the relation between music perception and notion becomes a perceptual reality. (Shove and Repp, 1995)2

Also, according to Haga (2008) “It is a fact that there are actual physical movements that are directly related to musical sound and these are the sound-producing actions of musicians”.  Furthermore, Demos, Chaffin and Kant (2014) say in their research that many researchers were examining the large-scale body movements that musicians make during performance are studying particular types of movement and musical features (as cited in ‘Slowing at a Cadence’ by Friberg and Sundberg, 1999). This approach has met with some success for sound-producing gestures, in other words, movements that make sound, and this underlines that this is the reason why musicians should have knowledge over how to control their body during their playing.

Other benefits of body awareness approached through body movement are the way in which muscles can be controlled when a musician is playing. By using the energy coming from the body centre, a musician is able to relax the muscles that are not needed for performance and are consequently more able to feel their body as being firmly grounded on the floor. Avoiding excess tensions, many of which interfere in the sound producing and in the control of the technical movements, is therefore beneficial to one’s playing.

This notion is supported by Emma Allingham’s research, as she used a performance with three different violinists to prove who moved the most and who produced the most expressive “sounding” playing. Additionally, she reported being the one who thought the least about body movement during the performance, adding to the claim that the view of movement during playing must be a natural one. Allingham therefore suggests that “The findings presented here have provided a valid contribution to the topic of embodied music cognition, and how knowledge of motion contributes to expressivity in music performance”. Allingham’s findings also confirm that the performance of music must include an awareness of expressive musical skills, and the movement of the whole-body during practice and performance.

On a side note — that relates to my research project — when music is interpreted by a dancer, the dance is naturally foregrounded; however, its connection with the music further complements this relationship. And, for the audience, it is easy to connect with the emotions of both, understanding the movements of the dancer and the music because the dance make these ideas more clear.