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Vocal Ensemble Evaluations Associated with Expressive Movement – A Pilot Study

Vocal Ensemble Evaluations Associated with Expressive Movement – A Pilot Study

Presenter Name:Diego Pinto

School/Affiliation:Northwestern University

Co-Authors:Morrison, Steven


Movement by music performers influences listeners’ perceptions of specific musical parameters as well as broad evaluations of expressivity and musicality. Inclusion of expressive movement has generally been associated with more positive listener responses to instrumentalists. In contrast, expressive movement among vocal performers has met with mixed responses rendering the extent to which this phenomenon is manifested in group vocal performance unclear. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the relationship between expressive body movement and listeners’ evaluations of vocal ensemble performance. A vocal quartet was recorded singing three renaissance madrigals under three movement conditions–no movement, upper body movement, and full body movement—resulting in twelve different audiovisual combinations. Audio was replaced with high-quality recordings. Adult participants (N = 49) listened to the three songs in audio-only format and then watched an audiovisual performance of each song under one of the three movement conditions. Results revealed significant difference between all movement conditions, with the no movementcondition receiving the lowest ratings. Evaluations of upper body and full body performances were more positive than those of no movement performances, suggesting that listeners perceived the performance as more expressive when movement was present. Evaluations of no movement performances were less positive than those of audio onlyperformances, suggesting that the absence of expressive movement negatively affected listeners’ perception. Findings suggest that a lack of expressive movement could compromise listeners’ perception of expressive singing. Singers might consider the display of expressiveness through movement as a crucial part of performance preparation.

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