PATRIK N. JUSLIN & ROLAND S. PERSSON
To communicate specific emotions to listeners, performers simultaneously manipulate a range of musical parameters. The research findings on emotional expression in music may be organized according to a theoretical framework that describes the communicative process in terms of E. Brunswik's (1956) lens model. We discuss traditional strategies for teaching expression including the use of metaphors, aural modeling, and felt emotion and conclude that these strategies rarely provide informative feedback to the performer. A new, empirically based approach to teaching expression called cognitive feedback is outlined and its efficacy evaluated. The goal is to provide performers with the tools they need to develop their own personal expression.
With regard to musical performances, experience has shown that the imagination of the hearer is in general so much at the disposal of the [performer] that by help of variation, intervals, and modulation he may stamp what impression on the mind he pleases.
Francesco Geminiani, cited in Meyer,
Emotion and Meaning in Music
Of all the subskills that make up music performance, the ones associated with emotional communication are often viewed as the most elusive. They go right to the core of why people engage in musical behavior, either as performers or as listeners. The performance of a piece of music is crucial in shaping its emotional expression. Thus the emotional impact of particularly expressive performers— for example, C. P. E. Bach, Niccolò Paganini, and Jimi Hendrix—has always been a source of great fascination. What is the origin of their expressiveness? How is it achieved?