Sight-reading of violinists: eye movements anticipate the musical flow

Wurtz, Pascal; Mueri, René M; Wiesendanger, Mario (2009). Sight-reading of violinists: eye movements anticipate the musical flow. Experimental brain research, 194(3), pp. 445-50. Berlin: Springer 10.1007/s00221-009-1719-3

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When sight-reading a piece of music the eyes constantly scan the score slightly ahead of music execution. This separation between reading and acting is commonly termed eye-hand span and can be expressed in two ways: as anticipation in notes or in time. Previous research, predominantly in piano players, found skill-dependent differences of eye-hand span. To date no study has explored visual anticipation in violinists. The present study investigated how structural properties of a piece of music affect the eye-hand span in a group of violinists. To this end eye movements and bow reversals were recorded synchronously while musicians sight-read a piece of music. The results suggest that structural differences of the score are reflected in the eye-hand span in a way similar to skill level. Specifically, the piece with higher complexity was associated with lower anticipation in notes, longer fixation duration and a tendency for more regressive fixations. Anticipation in time, however, remained the same (approximately 1 s) independently of the score played but was correlated with playing tempo. We conclude that the eye-hand span is not only influenced by the experience of the musician, but also by the structure of the score to be played.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

UniBE Contributor:

Wurtz, Pascal and Müri, René Martin










Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:05

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2016 11:51

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URI: (FactScience: 120939)

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