Running in Circles or Moving Along Lines: Conceptualization of Musical Elements in Sighted and Blind Children
Musicae Scientiae, 2013, Forthcoming
46 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2012 Last revised: 21 Feb 2013
Date Written: May 10, 2012
In the present study we address the perceptual basis for developing abstract concepts by investigating if there are any differences in the way sighted and blind ten-year-olds conceptualize some basic musical relations. Thirty-four sighted and nine blind US elementary school students (seven congenitally blind) were exposed to ten diametrically opposed musical stimuli (a high and low tone, a quick and slow succession of pitches, a major and minor chord…) and asked to verbally describe what the first and what the second part of the sequence was like. Upon transcription, their verbalizations were classified into higher-order conceptual categories. Distributions of responses so grouped were then compared. Results corroborate previous findings that metaphorization is the principal mechanism in conceptualizing musical elements, and suggest a preference for spatial relations in describing the sequences. We suggest three possible explanations for this result: (1) the studied concepts might be more abstractly spatial, rather than visually-grounded, for both populations; (2) the concepts might derive from visuo-spatial stimulation for the sighted, and more generally embodied experience in the blind, which however produces the same linguistic output; (3) the concepts might be visuo-spatial in the sighted, and the blind could have adopted the terminology upon hearing it from the sighted, irrespective of their own sensory experience.
Keywords: music, conceptualization, blind, sighted, children
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