This study examined the social processes involved in children’s collaborative musical compositions. The communication (verbal and musical) between same-gender pairs of 11–12 year olds was analysed using measures of the relative distribution of transactive and non-transactive elements. Results suggested that mutual friendship pairs were characterised by different communication patterns in both their music and talk compared to those of non-friend pairs, with significantly more transactive communication in both channels. Previous experience of instrumental lessons also had an effect, with experienced children playing and talking in a more transactive way than those without such experience. On teacher’s ratings of the final composition, those produced by pairs of friends received significantly higher scores than those of non-friends. Multiple regression analyses suggested that this final score could be predicted from the amount of transactive communication observed between the children. The results indicate some of the ways in which friendship influences the collaborative process in a creative, open-ended task by facilitating a high level of mutual engagement during the interaction and with the outcome of higher quality compositions.
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