How Do Bodily Metaphors Shape Our Experience of Music?
Verticality is not inherent in music (let alone in its notational representation); it is not there to be observed (heard) in the music, but it is instead a product of logical, metaphoric conceptualization (1999:50, emphasis in original).
Although there are no obvious directions of melody movement, most listeners feel directions in music. When the melody is moving ‘upwards’ or ‘downwards’ you get a feeling of spatial direction (2008:52).
We do not have a choice as to whether to acquire and use primary metaphor. Just by functioning normally in the world, we automatically and unconsciously acquire and use a vast number of such metaphors. Those metaphors are realized in our brains physically and are mostly beyond our control. They are a consequence of the nature of our brains, our bodies, and the world we inhabit (Lakoff & Johnson 1999:59, emphasis in original).
For young children, subjective (nonsensorimotor) experiences and judgments, on the one hand, and sensorimotor experiences, on the other, are so regularly conflated—undifferentiated in experience—that for a time children do not distinguish between the two when they occur together (Lakoff & Johnson 1999:46).
arise from the fact that we have bodies of the sort we have and that they function as they do in our physical environment (Lakoff & Johnson 1980:14).
These affect perception and shape actions. In the same way that we use image schemas as points of departure for producing images when we are told stories, we use motor schemas to form motor commands when we experience music. A motor schema related to tempo in music will support a correspondence between fast rhythms and rapid body movements; a motor schema related to verticality in music will encourage vertical movements in response to pitch. This latter motor schema has been shaped through our encounter with sources of verticality in music. Arnie Cox (1999:18f) refers to ten such sources that possess both literal and metaphoric features:memory structures created by generalizations made across seemingly similar situations in the environment (2000:102).
- verticality in staff notation,
- verticality in vocal experience, and
- the propagation of sound waves
- “higher” and “lower” frequencies,
- the “higher” and “lower” perceived loudness levels of high and low notes,
- the “higher” and “lower” amounts of air used for high and low notes,
- the “higher” and “lower” magnitudes of effort needed for high and low notes,
- the “higher” and “lower” degrees of tension in producing high and low notes,
- the association of “high” levels of emotional intensity and pitch at climaxes, and
- the metaphoric state-locations of tones in pitch space.
- Cox, Arnie W. 1999. The Metaphoric Logic of Musical Motion and Space. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oregon.
- Johnson, Christopher. 1999. Metaphor vs. Conflation in the Acquisition of Polysemy: The Case of See. In Cultural, Psychological and Typological Issues in Cognitive Linguistics: Selected Papers of the Bi-Annual ICLA Meeting in Albuquerque, July 1995, edited by M. K. Hiraga, C. Sinha and S. Wilcox. Amsterdam: John Benjamins: 155–169.
- Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books.
- Rossing, Thomas D., F. Richard Moore, and Paul A. Wheeler. 2002. The Science of Sound. San Francisco: Addison Wesley.
- Snyder, Bob. 2000. Music and Memory: An Introduction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
- Solberg, Ragnhild T. 2014. Waiting for the Bass to Drop: Correlations Between Intense Emotional Experiences and Production Techniques in Build-up and Drop Sections of Electronic Dance Music. In Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, 6 (1), 61–82
- Vickhoff, Björn. 2008. A Perspective Theory of Music Perception and Emotion. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Gothenburg
Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?
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