Author A. Schiavio
is currently a PhD student in Music Psychology at the University of Sheffield, having graduated in philosophy of science and in musicology from the University of Milan. His research is on the phenomenological and developmental implications of the embodied and enactive approaches to human musicality, in light of the mirror mechanism’s theory of action understanding.
Matyja J. R. & Schiavio A. (2013) Enactive Music Cognition: Background and Research Themes. Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 351-357. https://constructivist.info/8/3/351
Matyja J. R. & Schiavio A.
Enactive Music Cognition: Background and Research Themes.
Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 351-357.
Fulltext at https://constructivist.info/8/3/351
Context: The past few years have presented us with a growing amount of theoretical research (yet that is often based on neuroscientific developments) in the field of enactive music cognition. Problem: Current cognitivist and embodied approaches to music cognition suffer, in our opinion, from a too firm commitment to the explanatory role of mental representations in musical experience. This particular problem can be solved by adopting an enactive approach to music cognition. Method: We present and compare cognitivist, embodied and enactive approaches to music cognition and review the current research in enactive music cognition. Results: We find that, in general, the enactive approaches to human musicality are capable of explaining the basic relationship between a musical subject and a musical object according to a pre-conceptual and pre-linguistic form of understanding related to bodily motor expertise. This explanation does not rely on on sophisticated forms of representation. Implications: Proponents of enactive music cognition should, in our opinion, focus on providing a consistent explanation of the most basic level of musical understanding. Constructivist content: We hope to invite the constructivist community to engage with the discussions on the intersection between music and enactivism.
Menin D. & Schiavio A. (2012) Rethinking musical affordances. Avant 2: 202–215. https://cepa.info/4803
Menin D. & Schiavio A.
Rethinking musical affordances.
Avant 2: 202–215.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4803
The notion of affordance has been introduced by Gibson (1977, 1979) as the feature of an object or the environment that allows the observer to perform an action, a set of “environmental supports for an organism’s intentional activities” (Reybrouck 2005) Studied under very different perspectives, this concept has become a crucial issue not only for the ecological psychology, but also for cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence studies, and philosophy of mind. This variety of approaches has widened the already ambiguous definition originally provided by Gibson, contributing to the development of different standpoints in open contrast with each other (see Zipoli Caiani 2011) During the last two decades, moreover, many researchers tried to extend the notion also to musical experience, aiming to draw a coherent theory of musical affordances (e.g. Clarke 2005; Nussbaum 2007; Krueger 2011a; 2011b) In this paper, we will argue for a particular concept of musical affordances, that is, as we see it, one narrower and less ambiguous in scope and more closely related to its original. Taking the discovery of canonical neurons as our starting point, we will (i) introduce the general notion of affordance, (ii) discuss some significant contributions in this area of research, mostly focusing on musical affordances and (iii) propose a motor-based interpretation of musical affordances.
Schiavio A. (2016) Enactive affordances and the interplay of biological and phenomenological subjectivity. Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 315–317. https://cepa.info/2570
Enactive affordances and the interplay of biological and phenomenological subjectivity.
Constructivist Foundations 11(2): 315–317.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/2570
Open peer commentary on the article “Perception-Action Mutuality Obviates Mental Construction” by Martin Flament Fultot, Lin Nie & Claudia Carello. Upshot: Enactive approaches highlight the deep interdependency of brains, action, agency, and environment in shaping the world we inhabit. This perspective goes beyond input-output models of cognition, postulating instead closed loops of action and perception framed by the agent-environment complementarity. As a unique, dynamical, system, no (internal) representational recovery is required for cognitive-behavioral experience to take place.
Schiavio A. & Høffding S. (2015) Playing together without communicating? A pre-reflective and enactive account of joint musical performance. Musicae Scientiae 19(4): 366–388. https://cepa.info/6123
Schiavio A. & Høffding S.
Playing together without communicating? A pre-reflective and enactive account of joint musical performance.
Musicae Scientiae 19(4): 366–388.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/6123
In this article we explore the role of pre-reflective, embodied, and interactive intentionality in joint musical performance. Putting together insights from phenomenology and current theories in cognitive science, we present a case study based on qualitative interviews with the Danish String Quartet (DSQ). A total of 12 hours of interviews was recorded, drawing on ethnography-related methodologies during tours with the DSQ in Denmark and England in 2012 and 2013, focusing mainly on their experience of perception, intentionality, absorption, selfhood and intersubjectivity. The analysis emerging from our data suggests that expert musicians’ experience of collective music-making is rooted in the dynamical patterns of perception and action that co-constitute the sonic environment(s) in which they are embedded, and that the role of attention and other reflective processes should therefore be reconsidered. In putting forward our view on ensemble cohesion, we challenge Keller’s and Seddon and Biasutti’s influential positions, maintaining that the cognitive processes at play in such intersubjective context are grounded in the concrete (inter)actions of the players, and are not reducible to processes and structures ‘in the head’. We argue that this is a significant step forward from more traditional accounts of joint musical performances, which often involve mental representations as principal explanatory tools – downplaying the embodied and participatory dimension of music-making – and we conclude that ensemble performance can take place without attention to either shared goals, or to the other ensemble musicians. We finally suggest that if other researchers want to understand what it is like to play with other musicians then they must shift their focus from Joint Musical Attention (JMA) to Joint Musical Experience (JME), facilitating the development of more ecologically valid models of collective musical performance.
Schiavio A. & van der Schyff D. (2018) 4E music pedagogy and the principles of self-organization. Behavioral Sciences 8(8): 72. https://cepa.info/8119
Schiavio A. & van der Schyff D.
4E music pedagogy and the principles of self-organization.
Behavioral Sciences 8(8): 72.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/8119
Recent approaches in the cognitive and psychological sciences conceive of mind as an Embodied, Embedded, Extended, and Enactive (or 4E) phenomenon. While this has stimulated important discussions and debates across a vast array of disciplines, its principles, applications, and explanatory power have not yet been properly addressed in the domain of musical development. Accordingly, it remains unclear how the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of musical skills might be understood through the lenses of this approach, and what this might offer for practical areas like music education. To begin filling this gap, the present contribution aims to explore central aspects of music pedagogy through the lenses of 4E cognitive science. By discussing cross-disciplinary research in music, pedagogy, psychology, and philosophy of mind, we will provide novel insights that may help inspire a richer understanding of what musical learning entails. In doing so, we will develop conceptual bridges between the notion of ‘autopoiesis’ (the property of continuous self-regeneration that characterizes living systems) and the emergent dynamics contributing to the flourishing of one’s musical life. This will reveal important continuities between a number of new teaching approaches and principles of self-organization. In conclusion, we will briefly consider how these conceptual tools align with recent work in interactive cognition and collective music pedagogy, promoting the close collaboration of musicians, pedagogues, and cognitive scientists. View Full-Text
van der Schyff D. & Schiavio A. (2017) Evolutionary musicology meets embodied cognition: Biocultural coevolution and the enactive origins of human musicality. Frontiers in Neuroscience 11: 519. https://cepa.info/4764
van der Schyff D. & Schiavio A.
Evolutionary musicology meets embodied cognition: Biocultural coevolution and the enactive origins of human musicality.
Frontiers in Neuroscience 11: 519.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4764
Despite evolutionary musicology’s interdisciplinary nature, and the diverse methods it employs, the field has nevertheless tended to divide into two main positions. Some argue that music should be understood as a naturally selected adaptation, while others claim that music is a product of culture with little or no relevance for the survival of the species. We review these arguments, suggesting that while interesting and well-reasoned positions have been offered on both sides of the debate, the nature-or-culture (or adaptation vs. non-adaptation) assumptions that have traditionally driven the discussion have resulted in a problematic either/or dichotomy. We then consider an alternative “biocultural” proposal that appears to offer a way forward. As we discuss, this approach draws on a range of research in theoretical biology, archeology, neuroscience, embodied and ecological cognition, and dynamical systems theory (DST), positing a more integrated model that sees biological and cultural dimensions as aspects of the same evolving system. Following this, we outline the enactive approach to cognition, discussing the ways it aligns with the biocultural perspective. Put simply, the enactive approach posits a deep continuity between mind and life, where cognitive processes are explored in terms of how self-organizing living systems enact relationships with the environment that are relevant to their survival and well-being. It highlights the embodied and ecologically situated nature of living agents, as well as the active role they play in their own developmental processes. Importantly, the enactive approach sees cognitive and evolutionary processes as driven by a range of interacting factors, including the socio-cultural forms of activity that characterize the lives of more complex creatures such as ourselves. We offer some suggestions for how this approach might enhance and extend the biocultural model. To conclude we briefly consider the implications of this approach for practical areas such as music education.
van der Schyff D., Schiavio A., Walton A., Velardo V. & Chemero A. (2018) Musical creativity and the embodied mind: Exploring the possibilities of 4E cognition and dynamical systems theory. Music & Science 1: 20 September 2018. https://cepa.info/7379
van der Schyff D., Schiavio A., Walton A., Velardo V. & Chemero A.
Musical creativity and the embodied mind: Exploring the possibilities of 4E cognition and dynamical systems theory.
Music & Science 1: 20 September 2018.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7379
The phenomenon of creativity has received a growing amount of attention from scholars working across a range of disciplines. While this research has produced many important insights, it has also traditionally tended to explore creativity in terms of the reception of products or outcomes, conceiving of it as a cognitive process that is limited to the individual domain of the creative agent. More recently, however, researchers have begun to develop perspectives on creativity that highlight the patterns of adaptive embodied interaction that occur between multiple agents, as well as the broader socio-material milieu they are situated in. This has promoted new understandings of creativity, which is now often considered as a distributed phenomenon. Because music involves such a wide range of socio-cultural, bodily, technological, and temporal dimensions it is increasingly taken as a paradigmatic example for researchers who wish to explore creativity from this more relational perspective. In this article, we aim to contribute to this project by discussing musical creativity in light of recent developments in embodied cognitive science. More specifically, we will attempt to frame an approach to musical creativity based in an 4E (embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended) understanding of cognition. We suggest that this approach may help us better understand creativity in terms of how interacting individuals and social groups bring forth worlds of meaning through shared, embodied processes of dynamic interactivity. We also explore how dynamical systems theory (DST) may offer useful tools for research and theory that align closely with the 4E perspective. To conclude, we summarize our discussion and suggest possibilities for future research.
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