Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Importance of Communication Cues in Music Performance According to Performers and Audience

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Importance of Communication Cues in Music Performance According to Performers and Audience

Article excerpt


The present study was designed to investigate what types of communication cues performers and audience members regard as important during music performance. Our attempt differed from other studies in that it explored a holistic perspective of multiple cues in music performance through self-reports. The questionnaires provided a simple model of reciprocal communication flows among four roles, namely, performer, co-performer, audience, and co-audience member, as well as 10 types of communication cues, namely, facial expression, gaze, body movement, posture, touch, interpersonal distance, verbal information, attire, breath, and musical sound. A total of 86 performers and 149 audience members filled in the questionnaires. In referring to this model and imagining music performances, they rated the importance of communication cues according to their role as performers or audience members, situations (practice/performance). Performers selected the music genres that their performances usually play. Performers were also asked to draw stage positioning in music performance. The main findings are as follows: (1) Participants' roles as either performers or audience members affected their opinions about the importance of communication cues. In inter-performer communication, sound, gaze, body movement, facial expression, and breath were rated as highly important in both practice and performance. In performer-to-audience communication, musical sound, facial expression, and body movement were rated as highly important. (2) Participants regarded similar cues as important regardless of their role: senders and receivers of inter-performer and performer-to-audience communication. (3) Music genre (classical or popular) and situation (practice or performance) influenced participants' opinions about the importance of communication cues and stage positioning.

Keywords: ensemble performer, audience, communication cue, music performance, multimodal interaction, musical communication, coordination, music genre, stage positioning, practice

1. Introduction

In musical performance, we frequently see that performers and audience members employ multiple cues for communication. For example, conductors direct gestures to performers. Piano duo performers exchange eye contact with co-performers. Singers in popular music bands demonstrate gestures to audience members, who respond by mimicking their gestures. A large number of empirical studies have explored individual cues, such as sound, body movement, gaze, and facial expressions. Still, entire cues have rarely been discussed from a holistic perspective. Furthermore, despite their important suggestions, musical communication models do not provide all-inclusive views of musical cues.

Several questions thus arise. Do performers and audience members rank importance among these cues? Or do they regard these cues as equally significant? Do several cues exist to which performers pay attention but audience members do not? Or do both performers and audience members consider the same cues important? In the present study, we focused on these questions and proposed a model of integrative communication cues among participants in ensemble music. The present study differed from prior studies in that it examined the types of cues ensemble participants regard as important while considering multiple cues. We thus reviewed individual musical communication cues and models of musical communication in the available literature.

1.1 Inter-Performer Cues for Performance Coordination

Ensemble musicians employ multifaceted cues for communication with co-performers: e.g., talk, sound, body movement, gaze, and breath. Verbal interaction among performers before a live performance is important for an ensemble in practice session. Effective communication among ensemble members enhances the quality of performance (Ginsborg, Chaffin, & Nicholson, 2006; Ginsborg & King, 2012).

Audio cues facilitate inter-performer coordination, particularly synchronization among performers (e. …

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