This is the first journal article of my PhD student Agata Zelechowska, and it reports on a standstill study conducted a couple of years ago. It is slightly different than the paradigm we have used for the Championships of Standstill. While the latter is based on single markers on the head of multiple people, Agata’s experiment was conducted with full-body motion capture of individuals.
The most exciting thing about this new study, is that we have investigated whether there are any differences in people’s micromotion when they listen through either headphones or speakers. Is there a difference? Yes, it is! People move (a little) more when listening through headphones.
Want to know more? The article is Open Access, so you can read the whole thing here. The short summary is here:
Previous studies have shown that music may lead to spontaneous body movement, even when people try to stand still. But are spontaneous movement responses to music similar if the stimuli are presented using headphones or speakers? This article presents results from an exploratory study in which 35 participants listened to rhythmic stimuli while standing in a neutral position. The six different stimuli were 45 s each and ranged from a simple pulse to excerpts from electronic dance music (EDM). Each participant listened to all the stimuli using both headphones and speakers. An optical motion capture system was used to calculate their quantity of motion, and a set of questionnaires collected data about music preferences, listening habits, and the experimental sessions. The results show that the participants on average moved more when listening through headphones. The headphones condition was also reported as being more tiresome by the participants. Correlations between participants’ demographics, listening habits, and self-reported body motion were observed in both listening conditions. We conclude that the playback method impacts the level of body motion observed when people are listening to music. This should be taken into account when designing embodied music cognition studies.
Abstract: The relationships between human body motion and music have been the focus of several studies characterizing the correspondence between voluntary motion and various sound features. The study of involuntary movement to music, however, is still scarce. Insight into crucial aspects of music cognition, as well as characterization of the vestibular and sensorimotor systems could be largely improved through a description of the underlying links between music and involuntary movement. This study presents an analysis aimed at quantifying involuntary body motion of a small magnitude (micromotion) during standstill, as well as assessing the correspondences between such micromotion and different sound features of the musical stimuli: pulse clarity, amplitude, and spectral centroid. A total of 71 participants were asked to stand as still as possible for 6 min while being presented with alternating silence and music stimuli: Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Classical Indian music, and Norwegian fiddle music (Telespringar). The motion of each participant’s head was captured with a marker-based, infrared optical system. Differences in instantaneous position data were computed for each participant and the resulting time series were analyzed through cross-correlation to evaluate the delay between motion and musical features. The mean quantity of motion (QoM) was found to be highest across participants during the EDM condition. This musical genre is based on a clear pulse and rhythmic pattern, and it was also shown that pulse clarity was the metric that had the most significant effect in induced vertical motion across conditions. Correspondences were also found between motion and both brightness and loudness, providing some evidence of anticipation and reaction to the music. Overall, the proposed analysis techniques provide quantitative data and metrics on the correspondences between micromotion and music, with the EDM stimulus producing the clearest music-induced motion patterns. The analysis and results from this study are compatible with embodied music cognition and sensorimotor synchronization theories, and provide further evidence of the movement inducing effects of groove-related music features and human response to sound stimuli. Further work with larger data sets, and a wider range of stimuli, is necessary to produce conclusive findings on the subject.
Abstract: This chapter looks at some of the principles involved in developing conceptual methods and technological systems concerning sonic microinteraction, a type of interaction with sounds that is generated by bodily motion at a very small scale. I focus on the conceptualization of interactive systems that can exploit the smallest possible micromotion that people are able to both perceive and produce. It is also important that the interaction that is taking place allow for a recursive element via a feedback loop from the sound produced back to the performer producing it.
The chapter does not have an abstract, but the opening paragraph summarizes the content quite well:
As living human beings we are constantly in motion. Even when we try to stand absolutely still, our breathing, pulse and postural adjustments lead to motion at the micro-level. Such micromotion is small, but it is still possible to experience it in the body and it is also visible to others. This chapter reflects on such (un)conscious and (in)voluntary micromotion observed and experienced when one attempts to stand physically still, and how musical sound influences such micromotion.
I am happy to announce that I have received funding from the Norwegian Research Council’s program Young Research Talents for the project: MICRO – Human Bodily Micromotion in Music Perception and Interaction. This is a 4-year long project and I will be looking for both a PhD and postdoctoral fellow to join the team. The call will be out later this year, but please do not hesitate to contact me right if you are interested.
Here is a short summary of the project:
How and why does music make us move? This has been a highly discussed topic in musicology and music psychology in recent years. Most of the research in the field has so far focused on fairly large-scale motion to music, such as dancing. This project will investigate how music influences what we may call micromotion, such as the tiny motion observed when people try to stand still. Even though such micromotion is barely visible, it can be measured in a motion capture laboratory. This makes it possible to carry out studies of the effects of music on micromotion.
Results of the project will include:
knowledge about how music influences human motion at the micro-level
a large, open database of micromotion recordings
prototype software for using micromotion in interactive music systems
The project is based on the most recent research in musicology, psychology and neuroscience, will build on findings in the Sverm project. Most of the research will be carried out in the music and motion lab at the Department of Musicology, and will be affiliated with the fourMs group.
Let me know if you are interested in joining us!
Music researcher. Research musician. RITMO. University of Oslo. NIME. NordicSMC. Open Research. Father.