Musical Expression

In order to perceive music, someone must first produce it. Although computer-generated music can be highly abstract, most music is played on an instrument, sung, or possibly whistled. These are fundamentally motoric functions. What makes them uniquely musical, besides the high level of skill embodied in virtuoso performance, is the fact that the end result is musical sound, and an exquisite degree of sensorimotor integration (and attention to auditory feedback) is required.

Two levels of motor nervous system functioning relevant to musical expression are discussed next: motor productive, or the basic aspects of motor control necessary to produce musical sounds, and motor programmative, or the cortical control required to produce these sounds and the movements that engender them in sequences of varying length and complexity, from single notes to complex pieces 1 hr or more in length.

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