Three aspects of dialogue in music therapy: A theoretical treatise

Gabi Frank, Avi Gilboa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: The concept of dialogue is frequently used in music therapy. Our literature survey reveals that studies discussing the term dialogue in relation to music therapy have focused almost exclusively on either clinical music improvisation or verbal discourse. We believe that the concept of dialogue deserves more elaboration and systematic attention, illuminating its different aspects and potential meanings that it might have in music therapy. Method: We introduce a theoretical framework that we have developed to broaden the notion of dialogue and its place in music therapy. This theoretical framework, structured as a triadic typology, denotes three aspects of dialogue: ontological, ethical, and pragmatic. The potential of our triadic typology in capturing the dialogical aspects in music therapy is demonstrated through the analysis of a case vignette of a teenage boy diagnosed with leukemia. Results: The analysis of the vignette provides insights into the complexity of the dialogical dimensions in music therapy and how these dimensions are constantly intertwined to form an ongoing polyphony of dialogue. The insights offered in the analysis reflect the vast connotations of dialogue upon which clinical encounters in music therapy are based. Discussion: We perceive our triadic typology as a theoretical framework that can be utilized in the analysis of a variety of clinical encounters in music therapy. Therefore, we propose that the reader consider our triadic typology as an analytical tool that might assist music therapists in obtaining a broad understanding of dialogue in the context of music therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-193
Number of pages18
JournalNordic Journal of Music Therapy
Issue number2
Early online date2021
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No funding was received for this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 GAMUT–The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre.


  • Music therapy
  • communicative musicality
  • dialogue
  • musical communication
  • musical dialogue


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