The Effects of Temporal Action-Sound Congruence on Evaluations of Conductor Quality

Cory D. Meals, Steven J. Morrison, Deborah A. Confredo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Vision serves a fundamental role in the human experience of musical performance. In conducting, this particular heuristic influences both expressive and coordinative aspects of musical activity. Ensemble conductors present a special case of musical gesture, as their activities are coordinative rather than directly sound-producing. While the influence of vision on evaluations of musical expressivity has been well studied, less attention has been paid to the temporal aspect of conductors’ gestures. Given anecdotal observations of a flexibly congruent relationship between conductor gesture and ensemble response and the ability of entrainment to promote preference, we theorize that alterations to natural action-sound congruence in conductor-to-ensemble settings may influence evaluations of conductor quality. Naturalistic performance video of five conductors was left intact or adjusted to an audio- or video-lead condition by a percentage of each excerpt tempo (intact, ±15%, ±30%) and fully crossed into stimuli orders. Participants were asked to rate the quality of the conductor, the ensemble, and the performance overall using a Likert-type scale bound by “poor” and “excellent.” Our results indicate that any offset, whether audio- or video-led, resulted in a lower level of conductor quality than intact, unaltered performance. While our effect size was small (ηp2 = .02), participant ratings reinforce the role of action-sound congruence on observers’ perceptions and overall evaluation of conductors’ activities.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMusic & Science
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


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