Enacting musical emotions. sense-making, dynamic systems, and the embodied mind

Andrea Schiavio*, Dylan van der Schyff, Julian Cespedes-Guevara, Mark Reybrouck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The subject of musical emotions has emerged only recently as a major area of research. While much work in this area offers fascinating insights to musicological research, assumptions about the nature of emotional experience seem to remain committed to appraisal, representations, and a rule-based or information-processing model of cognition. Over the past three decades alternative ‘embodied’ and ‘enactive’ models of mind have challenged this approach by emphasising the self-organising aspects of cognition, often describing it as an ongoing process of dynamic interactivity between an organism and its environment. More recently, this perspective has been applied to the study of emotion in general, opening up interesting new possibilities for theory and research. This new approach, however, has received rather limited attention in musical contexts. With this in mind, we critically review the history of music and emotion studies, arguing that many existing theories offer only limited views of what musical-emotional experience entails. We then attempt to provide preliminary grounding for an alternative perspective on music and emotion based on the enactive/dynamic systems approach to the study of mind.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-809
Number of pages25
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Dynamic systems
  • Embodied music cognition
  • Embodiment
  • Enaction
  • Music and emotion
  • Sense-making

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