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Response to “Introduction to Artistic Media and Music Therapy by Isabelle Frohne – Hagemann”

March 6, 2006; Mary Butterton (mary@mbutterton.fsnet.co.uk)


In agreement with Lars Ole Bonde, Isabelle Frohne-Hagemann’s thinking in an ‘Introduction to Artistic Media and Music Therapy’ (1983) is indeed worthy of being considered further. In particular I will explore three strands of thought drawn from Frohne-Hagemann’s writing which link music and persons. They are ‘movement’, ‘gestalt’ and ‘communicative musicality’. The fourth strand I offer as contemporary thinking on ‘listening to music chosen by the client within word- based psychotherapy’. This writing is in response to an invitation to contribute to a dialogue in the series ‘International Archive Theory Building in Music Therapy’. In particular it addresses the current relevance of Isabelle Frohne- Hagemann’s 1983 paper in terms of modern 21st century thought in neuroscience and psychotherapy.

Key words – Zuckerkandl, motion /gestalt, ‘communicative musicality’ word-based psychotherapy

1) The writings of Zuckerkandl are at the core of Frohne Hagemann’s paper and continue to be relevant in this 21st century. This is because they are profound enough to bear neuro-scientific exploration on music and brain experience. On movement, Zuckerkandl (1956) writes of ‘away from’ and ‘towards’ motion which he identifies in music and also at the core of life itself. From a modern neuroscientific perspective Panksepp (2002) states that “the impact of music on the brain systems that control bodily movement are profound” and further “music may have a deep multidimensional evolutionary history, including issues related to the emergence of intersubjective communication”. In terms of music therapy much work has been done on this linkage between music, bodily movement and intersubjective communication in the work of Trevarthen and Malloch (2002) where their research is seen to link gesture and affect with musical sounds in the infant /mother relationship.

2) A second strand of Zuckerkandl’s writing (1973) explored by Frohne -Hagemann is the notion of the musical gestalt of the diatonic scale . Because of the work of Trevarthen and Malloch on the infant-mother relationship and ‘communicative musicality’ we can posit an overlap gestalt of the motion between tones in the diatonic scale and the ‘away from’ and ‘towards’ relational gestalt between the infant and mother . Here this dynamic ‘away from’ and ‘towards’ motion between mother and baby is observed in the musical /gestural/affective exchanges.

3) Trevarthen and Malloch (2000) name this as a ‘gestalt of communication’ and identify this process as ‘communicative musicality’. They write,

This communicative musicality consists of the attributes of human communication which are particularly exploited in music that allow co-ordinated companionship to arise (2000).

They state that humans of all ages may benefit from communicative musicality. However there is not space here to develop the many ideas arising from this statement but listening to music within word-based psychotherapy could be one context for consideration.

4) In listening to music within word- based psychotherapy where the client chooses the music and brings it into the consulting room, the music is understood to be that which he/she needs to listen to with a companion. The companion here is a therapist and is hopefully experienced by the client as someone who will empathise with his or her internal state(s). Through this ‘deep listening’ to the music (Becker, 2004) earlier traumatic ‘forms of feeling’ (Langer, 1942) stored implicitly in the right brain may be retrieved, perhaps even from a dissociated state. These feelings may then be integrated with left brain processes in the ensuing narrative conversation on the meaning of the music for the client(Cozolino, 2002).

Frohne- Hagemann’s writing does indeed open up contemporary thinking and ideas.


Bonde, L. O. (2005). Introduction to “Artistic Media and Music Therapy”. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 14(2), 165-167.

Becker, J. (2004) . Deep Listeners : Music Emotion and Trancing. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Cozolino, L. (2002) The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy. New York, London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Frohne – Hagemann, I (2005). Artistic Media and Music Therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 14(2), 168-178.

Langer, S. (1942) Philosophy in a New Key. (Third edition 1996) Cambridge Mass, & London: Harvard University Press.

Panksepp, J., Bernatzky, G.(2001) Emotional sounds and the brain : the neuro-affective foundation of musical appreciation. Behavioural Processes (60), 130-.

Trevarthen, C., Malloch, S. (2002) Musical Identities. Oxford Oxford University Press.

Trevarthen, C., Malloch, S. (2000) The Dance of Wellbeing: The Nature of the Musical Therapeutic Effect. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 9(2), 5-

Zuckerkandl, V. (1973) Man the Musician. Princeton, N.J Bollingen Series XLIV. 2, Princeton University Press.

Zuckerkandl, V. (1956) Sound and Symbol. Princeton, N.J. Bollingen Series XLIV, Princeton University Press.

© 2006. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. All right reserved. This page was last updated by Rune Rolvsjord March 6, 2006.