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Publication Detail
Gender and the performance of music
This study evaluates propositions that have appeared in the literature that music phenomena are gendered. Were they present in the musical "message," gendered qualities might be imparted at any of three stages of the music-communication interchange: the process of composition, its realization into sound by the performer, or imposed by the listener in the process of perception. The research was designed to obtain empirical evidence to enable evaluation of claims of the presence of gendering at these three stages. Three research hypotheses were identified and relevant literature of music behaviors and perception reviewed. New instruments of measurement were constructed to test the three hypotheses: (i) two listening sequences each containing 35 extracts from published recordings of compositions of the classical music repertoire, (ii) four "music characteristics" scales, with polarities defined by verbal descriptors designed to assess the dynamic and emotional valence of the musical extracts featured in the listening sequences. 69 musically-trained listeners listened to the two sequences and were asked to identify the sex of the performing artist of each musical extract; a second group of 23 listeners evaluated the extracts applying the four music characteristics scales. Results did not support claims that music structures are inherently gendered, nor proposals that performers impart their own-sex-specific qualities to the music. It is concluded that gendered properties are imposed subjectively by the listener, and these are primarily related to the tempo of the music. © 2014 Sergeant and Himonides.
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