The Musical Temperament: Psychology and Personality of Musicians

The Musical Temperament: Psychology and Personality of Musicians

The Musical Temperament: Psychology and Personality of Musicians

The Musical Temperament: Psychology and Personality of Musicians

Synopsis

Introduction: Personality assessment 1. Musicianship from a different perspective 2. Introversion 3. Independence 4. Anxiety 5. Gender role adaptability 6. Music preferences and listening styles 7. Orchestral performers 9. Musicians in popular fields and conductors 10. Composers 11. Music teachers 12. Development of musical talent

Excerpt

The study of personality has a long and in some ways a rather chequered history. From the beginning of time an important feature of human interaction has been our inclination to make judgements about one other and to interpret behaviour patterns as consistent temperamental predispositions or traits. Aristotle and Plato were amongst the early speculators, as well as Hippocrates, whose celebrated typology of temperaments was based upon the four body substances, blood, phlegm, and yellow and black bile. It was this typology that Galen adopted several centuries later leading him to develop the sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic classification of temperament. These notions still tend to linger on in our everyday language in describing each other: for example, a person who tends to be calm we describe as phlegmatic; and someone who looks on the black side of life we say is melancholic. A fifteenth century manuscript (Figure 1) provides graphic illustration of these four temperaments and, interestingly, in terms of the purposes of this book, the melancholic type is shown as featuring a musician.

The notion that everyday language embodies essential truths concerning the nature of human personality appears to have been the springboard for other early attempts at developing a systematic model. The logic of this is clear to see: if the inner predispositions of people to behave in certain ways are observable in our everyday experience and form a part of our social reality, it is reasonable to assume that they become encoded in language. Furthermore, advocates of this line of thinking would probably argue that the evolution of language reflects an ever-sharpening conceptual grasp of these observable traits. Galton (1884) was probably the first scientist to develop such a lexical hypothesis of individual differences, and he scanned the pages of Roget's thesaurus to extract large numbers of temperament descriptors to generate his model of personality. This set in motion a train of theoretical thought that can be traced through the work of Allport (Allport and Odbert 1936) to that of Cattell. The process was a long and laborious one: researchers like Cattell built constructs through a process of classifying these temperament descriptors, and attempted to develop a model that would embrace the total personality sphere (Cattell 1945). With the arrival of . . .

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