Creating a shared musical interpretation: Changes in coordination dynamics while learning unfamiliar music together Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe ability to coordinate with others is fundamental for humans to achieve shared goals. Often, harmonious interpersonal coordination requires learning, such as ensemble musicians rehearing together to synchronize their low‐level timing and high‐level aesthetic musical expressions. We investigated how the coordination dynamics of a professional string quartet changed as they learned unfamiliar pieces together across eight trials. During all trials, we recorded each musician's body sway motion data, and quantified the group's body sway similarity (cross‐correlation) and information flow (Granger causality) on each trial. In line with our hypothesis, group similarity increased, while group information flow decreased significantly across trials. In addition, there was a trend such that group similarity, but not information flow, was related to the quality of the performances. As the ensemble converged on a joint interpretation through rehearsing, their body sways reflected the change from interpersonal information flow for coordinative mutual adaptations and corrections, to synchronous musical coordination made possible by the musicians learning a common internally based expressive interpretation.


  • Wood, Emily A
  • Chang, Andrew
  • Bosnyak, Dan
  • Klein, Lucas
  • Baraku, Elger
  • Dotov, Dobromir
  • Trainor, Laurel

publication date

  • October 2022