What is musical groove? Do trained musicians understand and experience groove differently than other people?

Butler, Mark Jonathan. (2006). Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music. Bloomington, USA: Indiana University Press.

(This renowned study on electronic dance music will prove to be useful in gathering information pertaining to a genre that is not jazz–a genre that is quite contemporary and will allow for comparison between other genres.)

Doffman, Mark. (2013). Groove: Temporality, Awareness, and the Feeling of Entrainment in Jazz Performance. Experience and Meaning in Music Performance. 62-85.

(This article examines in detail the 2007 performance of “There Is No Greater Love” by a young jazz trio, focusing largely on the perspective of the performers themselves and their experiences. A combination of temporal elements and the subjective feel of the music is targeted.)

Janata, Peter., Tomic, Stefan T., & Haberman, Jason M. (2012). Sensorimotor Coupling in Music and the Psychology of the Groove. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 141(1), 54-75.

(Focuses on the psychological aspect of our desire as humans to move in response to music, narrowing in on young adults, which will be my intended target audience if I carry out a survey and small study pertaining to differences between trained musicians and other people.)

Keil, Charles., Feld, Steven. (1994). Music Grooves: Essays and Dialogues. Chicago, USA: University of Chicago Press.

(Music Grooves covers a variety of genres, while also touching on ethnomusicology aspects of groove. These dialogues will provide a useful insight into groove from the perspective of two valuable academic-yet-approachable sources.)

Madsion, Guy. (2006). Experiencing Groove Induced by Music: Consistency and Phenomenology. Music Perception, 24(2), 201-208.

(Operationally defining groove as “wanting to move some part of the body in relation to some aspect of the sound pattern,” Madison examines the responses of listeners to 64 musical examples and concludes that the perception of groove is a highly individual phenomenon. This study will aid me in preparation of a study of my own, as I too intend to expose listeners to brief audio examples and can use this as a strong reference point.)

Middleton, Richard. (1986). In the Groove or Blowing Your Mind? The Pleasures of Music Repetition. Popular Culture and Social Relations. 159-176.

(A focus on the repetitive nature of popular music, the detailed types of repetition that commonly occur, and how pop music remains so commercially successful. This publication will prove very valuable in learning more about pop music’s hypnotic, captivating qualities, and I hope that it will provide a link to my research on musical groove.)

Oliver, Rowan. (2013). Groove as Familiarity with Time. Music and Familiarity: Listening, Musicology and Performance. 239-252.

(This publication focuses on the individual’s perception of groove, in a highly subjective manner, and underlines stylistic nuance pertaining to groove–in this case the count-ins of some James Brown recordings. I hope to learn more about the personal, affective, side of experiencing groove through this source.)

Senn, Oliver., Kilchenmann, Lorenz. (2012). The Secret Ingredient: State of Affairs and Future Directions in Groove Studies. Musik-Raum-Akkord-Bild: Festschrift zum 65. 799-810.

(This source explores the relationship between two different angles of groove: groove as a process and another as a structural perspective. With this european source, I hope to uncover a fresh outlook on the definitions and operations of musical groove, examined in practical applications pertaining to today’s state of music.)

Witek, Maria A. G. (2009). Groove Experience: Emotional and Physiological Responses to Groove-Based Music. European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, 573-582.

(Taken from the abstract, “An initial qualitative interview study with three groove-based music producers and musicians investigated the subjective affective experience of groove, the extent to which musical structures facilitated the experience, and to what degree the experience could be understood as emotional.” I am hopeful this source will shed a light on the emotional, somewhat mysterious effect that groove has on listeners, and how this affective encounter is highly individual.)

Witek, Maria A.G., Clarke, Eric F., Wallentin, Mikkel., Kringelbach, Morten L., Vuust, Peter. (2014). Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4), 1-12.

(This source focuses on the nature of syncopation used as a means to create groove, something that has been speculated but rarely thoroughly investigated. This article will provide great insight into rhythmic characteristics of groove that can be linked in a variety of musical genres.)

Zagorski-Thomas, Simon. (2007). The Study of Groove. Ethnomusicology Forum, 16(2), 327-335.

(Taken from the abstract, “I am going to use this paper to discuss the way that Keil’s idea of ‘groovology’ (Keil 1987; Keil and Feld 1994) fits with contemporary work on expressive microtiming and performance practice.” The author states that his approach to groove is concerned with gesture and embodied cognition, and how this creates meaning to the performer which in turns gives meaning to the listener. I am hopeful this source will highlight the relationship between performer and listener, all the while focusing on the psychology of groove, as a group participation that creates something for the whole.)

Zbikowski, Lawrence M. (2004). Modelling the Groove: Conceptual Structure and Popular Music. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 12(9), 272-297.

(Zbikowski’s article examines his efforts to describe and understand groove with the use of  his ‘conceptual models.’ He explains that these models provide the structure with makes groove possible, and creates individual models pertaining to specific grooves of the music of Eric Clapton, Miles Davis and James Brown. This article should prove to be useful in comparing musicians and genre, and will hopefully provide insight if there is indeed a consistent factor that creates groove, regardless of genre.)



2 thoughts on “What is musical groove? Do trained musicians understand and experience groove differently than other people?

  1. This is an interesting collection of sources, although they are more heavily on the ethnographic and musicological side rather than empirical/experimental. Once you do the bulk of the reading and synthesizing, you might want to look into it a bit more to find relevant studies, whether they are based on phenomenological data (e.g., surveys) or behavioral data.

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