Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-2 (2)

Clipboard (0)
Year of Publication
Document Types
1.  Knowing too little or too much: the effects of familiarity with a co-performer's part on interpersonal coordination in musical ensembles 
Expert ensemble musicians produce exquisitely coordinated sounds, but rehearsal is typically required to do so. Ensemble coordination may thus be influenced by the degree to which individuals are familiar with each other's parts. Such familiarity may affect the ability to predict and synchronize with co-performers' actions. Internal models related to action simulation and anticipatory musical imagery may be affected by knowledge of (1) the musical structure of a co-performer's part (e.g., in terms of its rhythm and phrase structure) and/or (2) the co-performer's idiosyncratic playing style (e.g., expressive micro-timing variations). The current study investigated the effects of familiarity on interpersonal coordination in piano duos. Skilled pianists were required to play several duets with different partners. One condition included duets for which co-performers had previously practiced both parts, while another condition included duets for which each performer had practiced only their own part. Each piece was recorded six times without joint rehearsal or visual contact to examine the effects of increasing familiarity. Interpersonal coordination was quantified by measuring asynchronies between pianists' keystroke timing and the correlation of their body (head and torso) movements, which were recorded with a motion capture system. The results suggest that familiarity with a co-performer's part, in the absence of familiarity with their playing style, engenders predictions about micro-timing variations that are based instead upon one's own playing style, leading to a mismatch between predictions and actual events at short timescales. Predictions at longer timescales—that is, those related to musical measures and phrases, and reflected in head movements and body sway—are, however, facilitated by familiarity with the structure of a co-performer's part. These findings point to a dissociation between interpersonal coordination at the level of keystrokes and body movements.
PMCID: PMC3691551  PMID: 23805116
interpersonal coordination; body movement; music; ensembles; sensorimotor synchronization
2.  The Perception of Musical Spontaneity in Improvised and Imitated Jazz Performances 
The ability to evaluate spontaneity in human behavior is called upon in the esthetic appreciation of dramatic arts and music. The current study addresses the behavioral and brain mechanisms that mediate the perception of spontaneity in music performance. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, 22 jazz musicians listened to piano melodies and judged whether they were improvised or imitated. Judgment accuracy (mean 55%; range 44–65%), which was low but above chance, was positively correlated with musical experience and empathy. Analysis of listeners’ hemodynamic responses revealed that amygdala activation was stronger for improvisations than imitations. This activation correlated with the variability of performance timing and intensity (loudness) in the melodies, suggesting that the amygdala is involved in the detection of behavioral uncertainty. An analysis based on the subjective classification of melodies according to listeners’ judgments revealed that a network including the pre-supplementary motor area, frontal operculum, and anterior insula was most strongly activated for melodies judged to be improvised. This may reflect the increased engagement of an action simulation network when melodic predictions are rendered challenging due to perceived instability in the performer's actions. Taken together, our results suggest that, while certain brain regions in skilled individuals may be generally sensitive to objective cues to spontaneity in human behavior, the ability to evaluate spontaneity accurately depends upon whether an individual's action-related experience and perspective taking skills enable faithful internal simulation of the given behavior.
PMCID: PMC3125527  PMID: 21738518
music; improvisation; spontaneity; uncertainty; amygdala; action simulation; human fMRI

Results 1-2 (2)