Facial expressions and emotional singing: A study of perception and production with motion capture and electromyography

Steven R. Livingstone, William Forde Thompson*, Frank A. Russo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)
    15 Downloads (Pure)


    Facial expressions are used in music performance to communicate structural and emotional intentions. Exposure to emotional facial expressions also may lead to subtle facial movements that mirror those expressions. Seven participants were recorded with motion capture as they watched and imitated phrases of emotional singing. Four different participants were recorded using facial electromyography (EMG) while performing the same task. Participants saw and heard recordings of musical phrases sung with happy, sad, and neutral emotional connotations. They then imitated the target stimulus, paying close attention to the emotion expressed. Facial expressions were monitored during four epochs: (a) during the target; (b) prior to their imitation; (c) during their imitation; and (d) after their imitation. Expressive activity was observed in all epochs, implicating a role of facial expressions in the perception, planning, production, and post-production of emotional singing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)475-488
    Number of pages14
    JournalMusic Perception
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Bibliographical note

    Published as Music Perception, Vol. 26, Issue 5, pp. 478-488. Copyright 2009 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on Caliber (http://caliber.ucpress.net/) or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center, http://www.copyright.com

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