Musical expression of the instrumental playing of 61 mentally ill patients and 29 controls recorded several times was assessed by means of a short polarity profile. The performances were reversibly impaired in correlation with the psychopathology. Musical expression followed a systematic variation according to nosological classification. Endogenous-depressive patients could be clearly distinguished from neurotic-depressive patients due to weakened motoric qualities in their playing. In schizophrenia, motoricity did not seem to be so much involved, although the performances were altered in the dimension of musical logic and order. Maniform syndromes had the least effect on musical expression.

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