Home » Discover why music moves us with ‘Music and Embodied Cognition’

Discover why music moves us with ‘Music and Embodied Cognition’

Posted on: September 26th, 2016 in Cognition No Comments


Music moves us. Whether listeners love punk rock, metal, classical, pop, techno or country, it speaks to them. That sentiment goes for anyone who has heard music. There is something in those three- to five-minute bites of musical notes that reaches into our minds and souls and makes us experience that moment, process our thoughts and dream of what could be. Music can get us through a rough day, help us through a break up, enhance a celebration and more.

Some may wonder how this works. How is it that something as simple as a song can do so much, or make such a big impact that it can be considered a form of therapy to combat things like mental illness and addiction?

As it turns out, a professor decided to explore this very question.

Music and Embodied Cognition: Listening, Moving, Feeling, and Thinking (Musical Meaning and Interpretation)”, written by Arnie Cox, takes on the idea of what music means to us and looks at it through a cognitive lens. Cox seeks to explore the experience of hearing and listening to music and discover how it affects us both consciously and subconsciously.

The book introduces a groundbreaking study that gathers information from neuroscience and music theory, phenomenology and cognitive science to advance Cox’s theory of the “mimetic hypothesis.” This mimetic hypothesis is the idea that a large part of the human experience and understanding of music involves the listener giving an expressive imitation of bodily motions that are part of producing music. That is to say, Cox proposes that through an unconscious imitation of action and sound, human beings can feel the music as it moves and grows.

The book applies to tonal and post-tonal Western classical music, Western vernacular music and to non-Western music. The message Cox gives seeks to enlarge and expand the range of phenomena that is able to be explained by the sensory, motor, and affective aspects of human experience and cognition.

If readers want to learn more about the science behind how human beings experience music for their own personal knowledge or to discover how it applies to using music as an aide in treatment, then this the book to read.

What readers think

Due to the fact that this book is a rather recent publication, there has yet to be much reader feedback. However, what reviews do exist are positive, with Elizabeth Margulis, author of “On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind,” describing the book as “a beautiful account of what it’s like to listen to music.”

About the author

Arnie Cox, an associate professor of music theory and aural skills at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, has produced writings and teaching focus on the relationship between embodiment, affect, metaphor and musical experience. Cox has also published essays on music and gesture, the role of embodiment in music analysis and the nature of musical subjectivities. He has been an invited speaker at numerous universities and other venues.

About this author

Brianna Gibbons is a web producer for Sovereign Health. She graduated from Westmont College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently works hard to organize and publish the content created by Sovereign Health for the blogs and websites. In her spare time, Brianna loves to read, write, knit, travel, dote on her pets and randomly go on small adventures with friends. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com

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