Academic journal article Psychomusicology

The Use of Imagery during the Performance of Memorized Music

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

The Use of Imagery during the Performance of Memorized Music

Article excerpt

The starting point for the present research was the question: Do musicians use their inner singing voice as they perform music? Research in this area is frustrated by the extremely wide variety of terminology used to describe the same or similar concepts. A number of researchers from different backgrounds have approached the area simultaneously and, therefore, the existing terminology is reflective of its diverse and fractured research history. A search in this area reveals ^ 60 related terms, which include:

acoustic image, acoustic picture, acoustic memory, articulatory rehearsal, audiation, auditory aftereffects, auditory imagery, auralisation, backward messaging, brain-worms, covert rehearsal, ear-worms, echoic memory, endogenous sound, goal imaging, hearing eye, image hearing, imaginary voice, imagined music, implicit humming mediation, inner ear, inner hearing, inner singing, inner sound, inner voice, internal sound, invisible voice, involuntary musical imagery, last song syndrome, maintenance rehearsal, mental humming, mental imagery, mental rehearsal, mind's ear, mind's voice, musical image repetition, music imagery, musical imagery, musical hallucinations, nonaudible singing, notational audiation, picturing sound, pitch maintenance, pitch recall, pitch residue, pitch retention, rehearing, rote rehearsal, seeing ear, sensory memory, shadowing, silent singing, singing imagery, singing in your head, song on the brain, sound in the head, subauditory singing, subvocalisation, subvocal rehearsal, subvocal singing, tonal rehearsal component, trace effect, tune in the head, tune on the brain, and quasi-hearing.

The sheer volume of terminology for this phenomenon suggests two important things. First, that this area has not had the benefit of existing as a settled and focused research area in its own right; that is, although researchers from divergent disciplines continue to rediscover and redefine the topic, the theory and terminology cannot settle. Second, with such a miscellany of terms in use it may be that more than one type of experience is being described. However frustrating this accumulation of terminology seems, it does provide some insight; for each term provides a small definition, a reflection of how an individual felt, heard, or produced internal sound and then chose to describe it.

Within the scope of terminology presented, a range of ideas can be found with regards to method and purpose. A review of the literature aimed to (a) define key terminology, (b) find accounts of, and reasons for, the presence of imagery during musical performance, and (c) identify various types of imagery that might be employed.

A definition of the term auditory imagery has been provided by Intons-Peterson (1992), who made the distinction between a selfgenerated imagined sound and the presence of a sound due to the unconscious process of hearing. She claimed that auditory imagery happens in the absence of external sound, being:

the introspective persistence of an auditory experience, including one constructed from components drawn from long-term memory in the absence of direct sensory instigation of that experience. This definition is intended to exclude auditory after effects, which result from just vanished auditory stimulus. (p. 46)

Godøy and Jørgensen (2001) argued that a definition of auditory imagery should show the relationship between external sound and imagery:

It is also clear that in an ordinary listening situation, the memory of what has been heard as well as the expectation of what is to come, play an integral role in the process of any "primary" perception of musical sound...[also] elements of music imagery "present" in an ordinary...performance situation (e.g., the improviser has an image of what he or she has just played and what to play next.). (p. vii)

A combination of these ideas provides a definition of auditory imagery as a self-generated internal sound which is not the direct effect of stimulation by an exterior sound source, but which may coexist with that exterior sound. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.