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Music as Expressive Force


Admission requirements



Music is energy. It is energy from a physical point of view, as the sounds that the music consists of are vibrations of air molecules. Music, however, is also energy in a different sense. Music has the power to move people, both physically and mentally. Music thus is a force, a sonic cultural expression that has an impact on listeners, performers, and composers alike.
In this course music as expressive force will be discussed. The following topics will be covered:

  1. Materiality of music;
  2. Music as motion;
  3. Musical creation as expressive activity;
  4. The expressivity of musical performances;
  5. Music as embodied experience;
  6. Music and emotions.

Course objectives

After completion of this course the student will be able to:

  • Recognise and analyse the expressive qualities of music;

  • Analyse how the expressive qualities of music function within different cultural contexts;

  • Reflect on the different views on musical expressivity and musical emotion;

  • Critically evaluate the methods of analysis that are used.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture (even weeks)

  • Seminar (uneven weeks)

A group of students will host the seminars that take place on the uneven weeks. This group will begin by giving a 30-minute presentation, during which they will introduce five questions/problems/statements pertaining to the topic of last week’s lecture. Case studies should be used to clarify these points. Next, these points will be distributed among the other groups. Each group will discuss the point that was assigned to them, during 20-30 minutes. The members of the group that presented these points are supposed to mingle with the other groups and help them in their discussion. The remainder of the seminar will consist of a plenary discussion of these points, during which each group will present their response to the point that was presented to them. At the end of this course all presentations will be graded.

Assessment method


  • Paper

  • Oral presentation


  • Paper = 80%

  • Oral presentation = 20%


Students have the possibility to redo the paper if they have received grade lower than 5.5

inspection and feedback

The feedback on the paper will be sent to the students via email.

Reading list

The compulsory reading consists of the following papers, and can be downloaded once the students are connected to the Internet via the university’s wifi network or VPN:
1a. Cox, Christoph (2011). “Beyond Representation and Signification: Toward a Sonic Materialism.” Journal of Visual Culture 10: 145-161

1b. Krueger, Joel (2015). “Musicing, materiality, and the Emotional Niche.” Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 14: 43-62

2a. Johnson, Mark L., and Steve Larson (2003). “‘Something in the Way She Moves:’ Metaphors of Musical Motion.” Metaphor and Symbol 18: 63-84

2b. Larson, Steve, and Leigh Vanhandel (2005). “Measuring Musical Forces.” Music Perception 23: 119-136

3a. Iazzetta, Fernando (2000). “Meaning in Musical Gesture.” In M.M. Wanderley and M. Battier (eds.), Trends in Gestural control of Music, pp. 259-268. Paris: Ircam

3b. Krogh, Mads (2018). “A Beat Is a Hybrid: Mediation, ANT and Music as Material Practice.” Contemporary Music Review 37: 529-553

4a. Bergeron, Vincent, and Dominic McIver Lopes (2009). “Hearing and Seeing Musical Expression.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78: 1-16

4b. Davidson, Jane W. (2007). “Qualitative Insights into the Use of Expressive Body Movement in Solo Piano Performance: A Case Study Approach.” Psychology of Music 35: 381-401

5a. Crossley, Nick (2015). “Music Worlds and Body Techniques: On the Embodiment of Musicking.” Cultural Sociology 9: 471-492

5b. Meelberg, Vincent (2009). “Sonic Strokes and Musical Gestures: The Difference between Musical Affect and Musical Emotion.” In Jukka Louhivuori, Tuomas Eerola, Suvi Saarikallio, Tommi Himberg, and Päivi-Sisko Eerola (eds.), Proceedings of the 7th Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM): 324-327. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä

6a. Juslin, Patrik N., and Erik Lindström (2010). “Musical Expression of Emotions: Modelling Listeners’ Judgements of Composed and Performed Features.” Music Analysis 29: 334-364

6b. Pannese, Alessia, Marc-André Rappaz, and Didier Grandjean (2016). “Metaphor and Music Emotion: Ancient Views and Future Directions.” Consciousness and Cognition 44: 61-71


Brightspace will be used for:

  • reading materials

  • assignments and grading

  • communication etc.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website


Dr. Vincent Meelberg Dhr. ir. R.T.W.L. Schneemann


For other courses in the domains of music and fine arts, please visit:

Elective courses music and fine arts