Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Music moves us. Its kinetic power is the foundation of human behaviors as diverse as dance, romance, lullabies, and the military march. Despite its significance, the music-movement relationship is poorly understood. We present an empirical method for testing whether music and movement share a common structure that affords equivalent and universal emotional expressions. Our method uses a computer program that can generate matching examples of music and movement from a single set of features: rate, jitter (regularity of rate), direction, step size, and dissonance/visual spikiness. We applied our method in two experiments, one in the United States and another in an isolated tribal village in Cambodia. These experiments revealed three things: (i) each emotion was represented by a unique combination of features, (ii) each combination expressed the same emotion in both music and movement, and (iii) this common structure between music and movement was evident within and across cultures.
Sievers, Beau; Polansky, Larry; Casey, Michael; and Wheatley, Thalia, "Music and Movement Share a Dynamic Structure that Supports Universal Expressions of Emotion" (2013). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 1567.