The effects of concert dress and physical appearance on perceptions of female solo performers

Noola K Griffiths

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    This study investigates the importance of visual information in performance, focusing on the influence of dress on the musical evaluation of female classical soloists. In this study, four female violinists were filmed playing in four states of dress: jeans, a nightclubbing dress, black concert dress and point-light condition (body movement is apparent but not physical appearance). Each clip was recorded in two conditions: both as the performer's own version and with a mastertrack dubbed over the top. The dubbed versions therefore had a constant musical soundtrack. Fifteen male and 15 female musicians (age range 17–66 years) were asked to rate clips on six point scales in terms of technical proficiency, musicality, appropriateness of dress and attractiveness of performer. Significant effects were found of condition, dress and performer, and an interaction of performer and dress was observed on participant perceptions. Implications of these perceptions of female performers suggest that observers have a strong concept of what constitutes appropriate dress for a female recitalist, as the concert dress was overwhelmingly favoured above the nightclubbing dress and jeans. There is evidence that the historical dominance of mental attributes over physical attributes continues, as performer 3 is rated high for technical proficiency and musicality, but lower for appropriateness of dress.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)273-290
    JournalMusicae Scientiae
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008

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