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Gender and Music Composition: A study of music, and the gendering of meanings

Sergeant, DC; Himonides, E; (2016) Gender and Music Composition: A study of music, and the gendering of meanings. Frontiers in Psychology , 7 , Article 411. 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00411. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper reports the findings from original empirical research that was designed in order to test three hypotheses. These hypotheses were formed as a result of critical analyses of popular literature in the sociology of gender and music. These hypotheses are: 1. The sex or gender of a composer is identifiable from the musical content of a composition; 2. Perception of gendering of music is related to the sex of the listener; 3. Musical sounds, or the organisation of sounds within a composition, infer sex or gender characteristics. An original empirical research framework was developed in order to test these hypotheses, mainly comprising a composer-sex attribution task for a bespoke listening sequence. The results suggest that gendered information is not represented in the gestures, structures and narratives of a musical composition; no codes are embedded in music by composers that might operate as hidden signifiers of gender; any gendered impressions experienced by a listener are imposed onto the incoming musical stimuli subjectively by that listener, contributed from a network of previously established gender schemata, operating at subliminal level, which rely on universal socially acquired stereotype perceptions of relative characteristics of men and women. This research therefore suggests that, contrary to some published claims, masculinity and femininity are mapped onto the music by the listener and are by no means inherent in the musical composition.

Type: Article
Title: Gender and Music Composition: A study of music, and the gendering of meanings
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00411
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00411
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Sergeant and Himonides. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: musical gender, gendered music composition, masculinity and music, femininity and music, perception of gendering, sex attribution, MASCFEM
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475585
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