Communicative Musicality: Exploring the Basis of Human Companionship

ISBN : 9780199588725

Stephen Malloch; Colwyn Trevarthen
656 Pages
174 x 245 mm
Pub date
Mar 2010
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'Communicative Musicality' explores the intrinsic musical nature of human interaction. The theory of communicative musicality was developed from groundbreaking studies showing how in mother/infant communication there exist noticeable patterns of timing, pulse, voice timbre, and gesture. Without intending to, the exchange between a mother and her infant follow many of the rules of musical performance, including rhythm and timing. This is the first book to be devoted to this topic. In a collection of cutting-edge chapters, encompassing brain science, human evolution, psychology, acoustics and music performance, it focuses on the rhythm and sympathy of musical expression in human communication from infancy. It demonstrates how speaking and moving in rhythmic musical ways is the essential foundation for all forms of communication, even the most refined and technically elaborated, just as it is for parenting, good teaching, creative work in the arts, and therapy to help handicapped or emotionally distressed persons. A landmark in the literature, 'Communicative Musicality' is a valuable text for all those in the fields of developmental, educational, and music psychology, as well as those in the field of music therapy.


1. Musicality: communicating the vitality and interests of life
2. Root, leaf, blossom, or bole: concerning the origin and adaptive function of music
3. Music and how we became human: a view from cognitive semiotics - exploring imaginative hypotheses
4. Ritual foundations of human uniqueness
5. The evolution of music: theories, definitions and the nature of the evidence
6. Tau in musical expression
7. The neuroscience of emotion in music
8. Brain, music and musicality: inferences from neuroimaging
9. Infant rhythms: expressions of musical companionship
10. Voices of shared emotion and meaning: young infants and their mothers in Scotland and Japan
11. 'Music' and the 'action song' in infant development: an interpretation
12. Early trios: patterns of sound and movement in the genesis of meaning between infants
13. The effects of maternal depression on the 'musicality' of infant-directed speech and conversational engagement
14. The improvised musicality of belonging: repetition and variation in mother-infant vocal interaction
15. Music for children in zones of conflict and post-conflict: a bio-psycho-social paradigm
16. Between communicative musicality and collaborative musicing: a perspective from community music therapy
17. Supporting the development of mindfulness and meaning: clinical pathways in music therapy with a sexually abused child
18. The human nature of dance: towards a theory of aesthetic community
19. Therapeutic dialogues in music: nurturing musicality of communication in children with autistic spectrum disorder and Rett syndrome
20. Musicality in talk and listening: a key element in classroom discourse as an environment for learning
21. Spontaneity in the musicality and music learning of children
22. Vitality in music and dance as basic existential experience: application in teaching music
23. Intimacy and reciprocity in improvisatory musical performance: pedagogical lessons from adult artists and young children
24. Bodies swayed to music: the temporal arts as integral to ceremonial ritual
25. Towards a chronobiology of music
26. Musical communication: the body movements of performance
27. Communicative musicality as creative participation: from early childhood to advanced performance

About the author: 

Stephen Malloch is Adjunct Fellow at MARCS Auditory Laboratories, University of Western Sydney and works in private practice, counselling and coaching individuals and organizations around communication and the exploration of meaning. Having initially studied performance and musicology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Stephen completed his Masters at King's College, London, then went on to complete his PhD in music analysis and psychoacoustics at the University of Edinburgh. The theory of Communicative Musicality was born from research Stephen conducted on mother-infant communication during his post-doctoral fellowship in psychology at Edinburgh. On his return to Australia, Stephen focused on research into post-natal depression, music therapy and communication between infants. Complementing his study of psychology, Stephen has practised and taught Buddhist meditation and now combines these areas of expertise. ; Colwyn Trevarthen, a New Zealander, is Professor (Emeritus) of Child Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Edinburgh, where he has taught since 1971. He trained as a biologist, and has a PhD in psychobiology from Caltech. While a research fellow at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard in the 1960s, he began research on infant communication that led to the discovery of the innate capacities for human intersubjective communication. His work at Edinburgh in the 1980s on the development of mother-infant interactions pioneered a theory of cultural learning. His published work covers neuropsychology, brain development, infant communication child learning, and emotional health and methods of education and therapy. He is interested in the natural motives and emotions children have for learning in companionship, the effects of disorders such as autism and depressive illness, and how parents and teachers may best support needs of young children.

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