Here’s how musicians coordinate with each other non-verbally

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Toronto–A team of researchers has discovered a new technique to examine how musicians intuitively coordinate with one another during a performance, finds a new study.

The findings provide new insights into how musicians synchronise their movements so that they can play exactly in time as one single unit to perform expressive music that has changes in tempo and dynamics.

“Accomplishing this relies on predicting what your fellow musicians will do next so that you can plan the motor movements so as to express the same emotions in a coordinated way. If you wait to hear what your fellow musicians will do, it is too late,” said Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster University in Canada.

“Successfully performing music with a group is a highly complex endeavour,” said Trainor.

For this study, the researchers, using mathematical techniques, measured how much the movements of each musician were predicting the movements of others.

Each performer was fitted with motion capture markers to track their movements while the musicians played happy or sad musical excerpts, once with musical expression, once without.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, revealed that musicians predicted each other’s movements to a greater extent when they played with expression irrespective of whether they portrayed joy or sadness, compared to when they played with no emotion.

“Our work shows we can measure communication of emotion between musicians by analysing their movements in detail and that achieving a common emotion expression as a group requires a lot of communication,” said one of the researchers.

In addition, this novel technique can be applied to other situations, such as communication between non-verbal patients and their family and caregivers, suggest researchers.

While testing the technique in a study on romantic attraction, the early results indicated that communication measured in body sway can predict which couples will want to see each other again, the study noted. (IANS)


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