Music is a form of embodied interaction through which people can synchronize their motor, sensory, and emotive systems. Anthropologists and developmental psychologists suggest that elements of music provide the groundwork for verbal interaction and interpersonal relationships (Aiello, 1996; Dissanayake, 2000; Mithen, 2006). When people interact with each other through music, the bases of community are formed. Phenomenological descriptions of individual’s experience of music and the role music plays in interpersonal interaction have been documented. However, there is little literature describing the embodied experiences of music composers as the architects of embodied interactions through music. Through this study, I address this topic by answering the following research questions: (1) How is composition an embodied experience? (2) How does music generate embodied interactions between composers, performers, and audience members? To answer these research questions, I interviewed five music composers (four males and one female). I analyzed these interviews using Smith’s (1996) Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Using IPA, I worked to understand and describe the participants’ embodied experiences of music composition. Through my analysis, I came across the following three themes: (1) “Composition: Creating Music through the Embodiment of Inspiration, Intuition and Craft”; (2) “From Inception to Reception: Enriched, Transcendent Interactions through Music”; and (3) “Self of Composer: Development of Musical Expression through Compositional Experience”. The descriptions of the aforementioned themes highlight several key findings. First, music composition involves the interplay of inspiration, intuition, and knowledge of music. These embodied experiences of the composer become the nexus of interactional experiences for performers and audience members. Second, music composition enriches a composer’s intrapersonal and interpersonal interactions as music provides a more direct way of conveying sensory and emotional experiences (compared to conventional interactions). Third, the composer’s embodied experiences become the nexus of community for the performers and audience members who participate in the composer’s music. This study describes the role a composer has in the embodied, interactional experiences of music. Through my analysis, the composer can be viewed as the protagonist of community—joining people together through their music in different spaces and different times.


Christopher Brown

Committee Member

Sachi Sekimoto

Committee Member

David Dickau

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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