Spontaneous sensorimotor coupling with multipart music

Brian K. Hurley, Peter A. Martens, Petr Janata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Music often evokes spontaneous movements in listeners that are synchronized with the music, a phenomenon that has been characterized as being in "the groove." However, the musical factors that contribute to listeners' initiation of stimulus-coupled action remain unclear. Evidence suggests that newly appearing objects in auditory scenes orient listeners' attention, and that in multipart music, newly appearing instrument or voice parts can engage listeners' attention and elicit arousal. We posit that attentional engagement with music can influence listeners' spontaneous stimulus-coupled movement. Here, 2 experiments-involving participants with and without musical training-tested the effect of staggering instrument entrances across time and varying the number of concurrent instrument parts within novel multipart music on listeners' engagement with the music, as assessed by spontaneous sensorimotor behavior and self-reports. Experiment 1 assessed listeners' moment-to-moment ratings of perceived groove, and Experiment 2 examined their spontaneous tapping and head movements. We found that, for both musically trained and untrained participants, music with more instruments led to higher ratings of perceived groove, and that music with staggered instrument entrances elicited both increased sensorimotor coupling and increased reports of perceived groove. Although untrained participants were more likely to rate music as higher in groove, trained participants showed greater propensity for tapping along, and they did so more accurately. The quality of synchronization of head movements with the music, however, did not differ as a function of training. Our results shed new light on the relationship between complex musical scenes, attention, and spontaneous sensorimotor behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1679-1696
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Auditory scene
  • Emotion
  • Groove
  • Synchronization

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