Spatial representations common to music and bodily experience

Xuejing Lu*, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter discusses evidence that musical pitch is conceived and represented spatially, and that bodily experience provides a rich source for conceptualizing music metaphorically. It also describes how bodily gestures may be combined with perceptual representations of music, focusing on music-related movements of performers, such as facial expressions and gestures. Such expressive bodily movements help to shape listeners’ perception of music structure and link perception to action. Furthermore, it describes the function of spatial representations of music, and discusses evidence that musical expertise affects the stability and reliability of these spatial representations. Finally, a cognitive-motor framework for understanding spatial representations of music is proposed, which makes predictions about how this representation is manifested, differentially relied on, and sometimes disrupted in individuals with varying levels of expertise.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body
EditorsYoun Kim, Sander L. Gilman
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780190636234
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


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