Collective dynamics support group drumming, reduce variability, and stabilize tempo drift Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Humans are social animals who engage in a variety of collective activities requiring coordinated action. Among these, music is a defining and ancient aspect of human sociality. Human social interaction has largely been addressed in dyadic paradigms, and it is yet to be determined whether the ensuing conclusions generalize to larger groups. Studied more extensively in non-human animal behavior, the presence of multiple agents engaged in the same task space creates different constraints and possibilities than in simpler dyadic interactions. We addressed whether collective dynamics play a role in human circle drumming. The task was to synchronize in a group with an initial reference pattern and then maintain synchronization after it was muted. We varied the number of drummers from solo to dyad, quartet, and octet. The observed lower variability, lack of speeding up, smoother individual dynamics, and leader-less inter-personal coordination indicated that stability increased as group size increased, a sort of temporal wisdom of crowds. We propose a hybrid continuous-discrete Kuramoto model for emergent group synchronization with a pulse-based coupling that exhibits a mean field positive feedback loop. This research suggests that collective phenomena are among the factors that play a role in social cognition.


  • Dotov, Dobromir
  • Delasanta, Lana
  • Cameron, Daniel J
  • Large, Edward W
  • Trainor, Laurel

publication date

  • November 1, 2022

published in