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Gender and the performance of music

Sergeant, DC; Himonides, E; (2014) Gender and the performance of music. Frontiers in Psychology , 5 , Article 276. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00276. Green open access

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Abstract

This study evaluates propositions that have appeared in the literature that music phenomena are gendered. Were they present in the musical "message," gendered qualities might be imparted at any of three stages of the music-communication interchange: the process of composition, its realization into sound by the performer, or imposed by the listener in the process of perception. The research was designed to obtain empirical evidence to enable evaluation of claims of the presence of gendering at these three stages. Three research hypotheses were identified and relevant literature of music behaviors and perception reviewed. New instruments of measurement were constructed to test the three hypotheses: (i) two listening sequences each containing 35 extracts from published recordings of compositions of the classical music repertoire, (ii) four "music characteristics" scales, with polarities defined by verbal descriptors designed to assess the dynamic and emotional valence of the musical extracts featured in the listening sequences. 69 musically-trained listeners listened to the two sequences and were asked to identify the sex of the performing artist of each musical extract; a second group of 23 listeners evaluated the extracts applying the four music characteristics scales. Results did not support claims that music structures are inherently gendered, nor proposals that performers impart their own-sex-specific qualities to the music. It is concluded that gendered properties are imposed subjectively by the listener, and these are primarily related to the tempo of the music.

Type: Article
Title: Gender and the performance of music
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00276
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00276
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2014 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/3.0/). 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: music, performance, musical meaning, gender, sex differences
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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/1490615
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