Final Presentation Instructions

Instructions are found below and can be downloaded here.

Goal: Deliver a substantial and effective presentation of your research project to a (mock) panel of judges from a major funding agency on Wednesday, December 17, 9:00 AM (SKL 408). Individual presentations should be no more than 25 minutes, including 5 minutes for questions.

Required format: The presentation should be prepared using PowerPoint (or equivalent software). It is strongly recommended that you use the presenters’ tool to insert notes of what you plan to say. All slides must be emailed to me by December 17, 8:45 AM; make sure to include all the necessary materials (video/audio files). All materials should be sent in a single folder; it is also recommended to save the single folder on a thumb drive as back up.

Grading: This assignment will count for 50 points out of 100. The grade will be based on adherence to instructions (5), quality of delivery (20), quality of contents (20), and timely submission (5 points); see the attached evaluation sheet. Because this presentation counts as the final exam, each student is required to attend the entire duration of the presentations; no make-up will be given unless supported by a Dean’s permission.

Although presentations will vary in style, they should include all the components listed below; each component may be represented by one or a few slides. Note that the amount of time spent on each component will vary depending on the specific nature of the project and the state of research on this topic.

  1. Larger context
  • Situate your project within some everyday life element.
  1. Research question
  • State the question as clearly and succinctly as possible; include all necessary definitions.
  1. So what?
  • Why should the audience care about this particular question? Are there larger implications?
  1. Background research/Previous findings
  • What is the surrent state of knowledge/research on this topic? What are the specific findings directly relevant to your project?
  • Divide previous work and findings done into 2-3 categories based on different aspects of the question or research methods used.


  1. Hypothesis statement/Specific questions
  • Re-state your question in terms of variables, measures, and possible outcomes (i.e., if behavior A is observed, it will suggest a, and if behavior B is observed, it will suggest b).
  • If your research does not involve a behavioral experiment but some other form of empirical method, you can still form a hypothesis, but it might be stated in a (somewhat) different format. Alternatively, you may present a set of specific questions.
  1. Experimental design/Research method
  • Descirne the proposed experiment as clearly and concretely as possible, including source materials (you may include a sample) & methods (task, procedure, participants, variables, measures, data analysis).
  • Include some kind of figure that clarifies the experimental design in some way; this can help clarify the procedure and might save a lot of time.
  • Identify at least one musical example you plan to use either for analysis or as source materials for your proposed experimental design, and make it part of your presentation (i.e., play a recording, if available, or present it as an example).
  • NOTE: If your research does not involve a behavioral experiment, this section should be adapted to your methodology. For example, if your work involves corpus analysis (i.e., the systematic analysis of a given characteristic in a representative sample from a particular body of works), you should provide a description of the method and a sample analysis. If the research on your topic is still in its infancy, say how you plan to advance the research, and be as specific as possible.
  1. Concluding remarks/Discussion
  • Identify possible applications of your findings and/or important questions/issues on which your research is likely to shed some light. NOTE: This section is a way to re-visit the “So what?” question you initially adressed, but in the light of your proposal.

8. References

  • You final slide should include a list of all references; make sure to use APA style throughout; you may use the references section of the structured abstract template as an example.

Defining Groove Amongst Classical Musicians

Based on the work of my literature review, pertaining to groove, along with the vast amount of research that has been carried out by a multitude of academics, (Keil, Janata, Oliver, Witek are just some examples) it has become increasingly clear to me that defining the word “groove” is no simple task. Each individual experiences music in a highly personal way, and based on our tastes, cultural background and musical familiarity, it is no wonder that groove can take on a variety of meanings.

Nonetheless, there seem to be some underlying principles that resurface in the majority of researchers’ investigations, such as music provoking the listener to engage in physical movement, as a way of enhancing the experience and expressing enjoyment.

My interests at this stage are in the realm of groove in classical music, something that doesn’t seem to attract a lot of attention, as colloquially, classical music has been seen as stuffy, or lacking in “style”, something that most people would agree is a necessity for groove to flourish. While I have been somewhat unsuccessful at the moment in finding new source material pertaining to groove in classical music, I believe that there is much for me to learn about how an individual’s taste impacts his/her experience of music. Here are some sources that I believe will set me on the right path for further exploration:

Tiger C. Roholt’s Groove: The phenomenology of musical nuance

Musical nuances are the fine-grained ‘expressive variations’ that are often characterized as contributing to a performer’s interpretation of a musical work. I demonstrate that there are different ways of perceiving a nuance; an inadequate way can block the emergence of a perceptual Gestalt to which a nuance contributes, and thus stand in the way of our grasping the nuance’s musical significance. I criticize Diana Raffman’s account of nuances by arguing that she does not acknowledge that nuances can be perceived in different ways; there is a perceptual way implicit in her work but it is one that is inadequate and prevents the relevant Gestalts from arising. My account of nuances is developed through a detailed account of a Gestalt that is grounded in nuances—the rhythmic phenomenon of groove (the feel of a rhythm). On my account, a groove is a dispositional mind-dependent property of music, one that can only be ‘unlocked’ by means of certain perceptual ways. These ways involve allowing certain timing nuances to be perceptually preserved as ambiguous . In elucidating this perceptual role, I clarify Merleau-Ponty’s ‘perceptual indeterminacy’ by defining a perceptual role I call ‘reverberation.’ I highlight the importance of grooves and nuances in contemporary popular music by invoking two ontological views of musical works; nuance and groovetypes can be properties of classical works, but particular nuances and particular grooves are properties of pop works. These grooves are not merely perceptual qualities, they are pivotal relational properties through which musical elements make their connections. The body movement of listeners is not merely a reaction to rhythm; body movement may influence the way we hear rhythms. I draw both conservative and controversial conclusions regarding this relationship. In drawing the latter, I adapt Merleau-Ponty’s notion of ‘motor intentionality’ to temporal perception, and claim that a certain kind of understanding of a rhythm is activated only when we move to a rhythm’s pulse; this understanding influences the resulting experience. When we move our bodies, our experience of a groove may be qualitatively different than when we do not.

DeFonso, Lenore E. , Johnson, Stephen M. , Rowlett, Mary E. ‘s Does information or involvement increase reported enjoyment of classical music?

Attempted to determine whether reported enjoyment of classical music is affected by having some task that involves one in the music while listening, or by receiving information about the music, as opposed to simply listening. Three groups of participants heard eight short musical excerpts, all programmatic classical music. An Involvement group was asked to imagine a scene or story while listening. An Information group was told the title, composer, and what the music represented. A third group simply listened to the music. All groups then rated the excerpts on several measures. A significant group effect was found for four of the excerpts when pre-experiment experience with classical music was controlled for. The Information group consistently reported liking the excerpts better than did the other two groups. The Involvement group did not show an increase in liking; in fact, their mean ratings for some of the excerpts were lower than the control group. Prior exposure to classical music significantly affected ratings, and there was a significant gender effect for some excerpts. Other factors affecting the results are also discussed, as well as implications of the research for ways to increase people’s liking for classical music.

It is my hope that with the help of these sources, along with other research, that I will gain a deeper understanding of groove in the world of classical music. I am curious to find if there are any consistencies within most classical musicians in how they define/perceive groove, and if this experience of groove is heightened because of their training in the field. Furthermore, I am hopeful to learn more about the actual enjoyment of classical music (if it requires many years of familiarity/training/exposure to be truly appreciated), as it is a current hot topic that classical music’s relevance is rapidly fading.

I intend to carry out this research with readings of scholarly articles, along with conducting a few informal interviews with some classical musicians at the Yale School of Music. One possible method is to gather samples of classical music that I personally deem “groovy” and share these examples with others, asking them to voice their opinions on whether or not this music grooves, and why. I will also hopefully gain some insight as to why classical music might not be an initially obvious choice when looking for music that truly grooves.

Reformulated Research Question

Question: Does movement accompanying an action help to remember that action?

Katinka Dijkstra, Michael P. Kaschak, Rolf A. Zwaan, (January 2007) ‘Body posture facilitates retrieval of autobiographical memories,’ Cognition, Volume 102, Issue 1, Pages 139-149, ISSN 0010-0277,

Abstract: “We assessed potential facilitation of congruent body posture on access to and retention of autobiographical memories in younger and older adults. Response times were shorter when body positions during prompted retrieval of autobiographical events were similar to the body positions in the original events than when body position was incongruent. Free recall of the autobiographical events two weeks later was also better for congruent-posture than for incongruent-posture memories. The findings were similar for younger and older adults, except for the finding that free recall was more accurate in younger adults than in older adults in the congruent condition. We discuss these findings in the context of theories of embodied cognition.”

Bettina Bläsing, Beatriz Calvo-Merino, Emily S. Cross, Corinne Jola, Juliane Honisch, Catherine J. Stevens, (February 2012) ‘Neurocognitive control in dance perception and performance,’ Acta Psychologica, Volume 139, Issue 2,  Pages 300-308, ISSN 0001-6918,

Abstract: “Dance is a rich source of material for researchers interested in the integration of movement and cognition. The multiple aspects of embodied cognition involved in performing and perceiving dance have inspired scientists to use dance as a means for studying motor control, expertise, and action-perception links. The aim of this review is to present basic research on cognitive and neural processes implicated in the execution, expression, and observation of dance, and to bring into relief contemporary issues and open research questions. The review addresses six topics: 1) dancers’ exemplary motor control, in terms of postural control, equilibrium maintenance, and stabilization; 2) how dancers’ timing and on-line synchronization are influenced by attention demands and motor experience; 3) the critical roles played by sequence learning and memory; 4) how dancers make strategic use of visual and motor imagery; 5) the insights into the neural coupling between action and perception yielded through exploration of the brain architecture mediating dance observation; and 6) a neuroesthetics perspective that sheds new light on the way audiences perceive and evaluate dance expression. Current and emerging issues are presented regarding future directions that will facilitate the ongoing dialog between science and dance.”

Grafton, S. T. (2009), ‘Embodied Cognition and the Simulation of Action to Understand Others. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,’ 1156: 97–117. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04425.x

“Understanding the goals or intentions of other people requires a broad range of evaluative processes including the decoding of biological motion, knowing about object properties, and abilities for recognizing task space requirements and social contexts. It is becoming increasingly evident that some of this decoding is based in part on the simulation of other people’s behavior within our own nervous system. This review focuses on aspects of action understanding that rely on embodied cognition, that is, the knowledge of the body and how it interacts with the world. This form of cognition provides an essential knowledge base from which action simulation can be used to decode at least some actions performed by others. Recent functional imaging studies or action understanding are interpreted with a goal of defining conditions when simulation operations occur and how this relates with other constructs, including top-down versus bottom-up processing and the functional distinctions between action observation and social networks. From this it is argued that action understanding emerges from the engagement of highly flexible computational hierarchies driven by simulation, object properties, social context, and kinematic constraints and where the hierarchy is driven by task structure rather than functional or strict anatomic rules.”

Reformulated Questions and New Citations

Question: Can musical rhythmic intervention improve the language skills of those with dyslexia?  Do different types of intervention have different magnitudes of effect?

Additional Sources:

1.) Overy, K. (2006). Dyslexia and Music. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 999, 497-505.

The underlying causes of the language and literacy difficulties experienced by dyslexic children are not yet fully understood, but current theories suggest that timing deficits may be a key factor. Dyslexic children have been found to exhibit timing difficulties in the domains of language, music, perception and cognition, as well as motor control. The author has previously suggested that group music lessons, based on singing and rhythm games, might provide a valuable multisensory support tool for dyslexic children by encouraging the development of important auditory and motor timing skills and subsequently language skills. In order to examine this hypothesis, a research program was designed that involved the development of group music lessons and musical tests for dyslexic children in addition to three experimental studies. It was found that classroom music lessons had a positive effect on both phonologic and spelling skills, but not reading skills. Results also indicated that dyslexic children showed difficulties with musical timing skills while showing no difficulties with pitch skills. These apparent disassociations between spelling and reading ability and musical timing and pitch ability are discussed. The results of the research program are placed in the context of a more general model of the potential relationship between musical training and improved language and literacy skills.

2.) Overy, K. (2000). Dyslexia, Temporal Processing and Music: The Potential of Music as an Early Learning Aid for Dyslexic Children. Psychology of Music, 28(2), 218-229.

There is extensive evidence suggesting that the language and literacy problems experienced by dyslexics are caused by deficits in various sensory, cognitive and motor processes. Several theories on the underlying cause of these deficits are converging on the idea that the fundamental problems derive from abnormal neurological timing, or “temporal processing”. It has been proposed that temporal processing ability can be improved through training, and that this will lead to improved language and literacy skills (Tallal et al., 1996). Music training, requiring very accurate timing skills, can offer a medium for the development and improvement of temporal processing ability, and thus may provide a valuable form of extra remediation for dyslexic children. This article reports some preliminary work in this area, which has produced encouraging results. Further research is also outlined.

3.) Overy, K., Nicolson, R., Fawcett, A., Clarke, E. (2003). Dyslexia and music: measuring musical timing skills. Dyslexia, 9(1), 18-36.

Over the last few decades, a growing amount of research has suggested that dyslexics have particular difficulties with skills involving accurate or rapid timing, including musical timing skills. It has been hypothesised that music training may be able to remediate such timing difficulties, and have a positive effect on fundamental perceptual skills that are important in the development of language and literacy skills (Overy, 2000). In order to explore this hypothesis further, the nature and extent of dyslexics’ musical difficulties need to be examined in more detail. In the present study, a collection of musical aptitude tests (MATs) were designed specifically for dyslexic children, in order to distinguish between a variety of musical skills and sub-skills. 15 dyslexic children (age 7–11, mean age 9.0) and 11 control children (age 7–10, mean age 8.9) were tested on the MATs, and their scores were compared. Results showed that the dyslexic group scored higher than the control group on 3 tests of pitch skills (possibly attributable to slightly greater musical experience), but lower than the control group on 7 out of 9 tests of timing skills. Particular difficulties were noted on one of the tests involving rapid temporal processing, in which a subgroup of 5 of the dyslexic children (33%) (mean age 8.4) was found to account for all the significant error. Also, an interesting correlation was found between spelling ability and the skill of tapping out the rhythm of a song, which both involve the skill of syllable segmentation. These results support suggestions that timing is a difficulty area for dyslexic children, and suggest that rhythm skills and rapid skills may need particular attention in any form of musical training with dyslexics. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


A Review of Rhythmic Memory

The interaction between music and memory has been much researched and discussed. More specifically, it has been studied how the brain remembers a rhythm and what factors can effect how well a rhythm is remembered by the brain. The different pathways of the brain that occur when listening to or reproducing a rhythm have been traced out by numerous experiments. These studies of the mechanisms in the brain have been advanced by examining individuals with certain brain disorders thought to effect rhythmic perception. Outside of observing the systems of the brain, experiments have been conducted to determine what factors and to what extent these factors affect rhythm memory, such as presentation and complexity. It has been established that rhythm is to a degree a component of remembering a piece of music and that this skill is variant among individuals of different age groups, music abilities, and learning levels. A connection that has been made in recent studies is that between musical discrimination abilities and language-related skills. People with certain language defects have corresponding shortcomings in rhythmic synchronization and recognition. Also, disorders not directly related to language, such as autism, have been revealed to parallel rhythmic ability. This knowledge of association between music and levels of learning or social ability have also given rise to the theory that music intervention among affected individuals may provide benefits and assistance towards these deficiencies. This review first examines the mechanisms of the brain involved in rhythm perception and how we interpret rhythms of different kinds. It then discusses what is known about what influences how well a rhythm can be recalled. Later, this review discusses developmental disorders that may be associated with rhythm cognition and how music is trying to be used to combat these syndromes.

Research on rhythm has demonstrated how memory plays a part in the subdivision and division of music. Spontaneous groupings of rhythms arise within a piece of music, which shows limitations in our memory (Krumhansl 2000). In order for us to be able to make sense of what we are hearing and have expectations for what we are about to hear, our mind has to come up with a way to group the beats and rhythms of music in a coherent manner. Also, simpler ratios of beats such as 1:2 are easier to imitate than more complex ratios such as 1:3 (Krumhansl 2000). Perfomance differences in rhythmic ratio imitation experiments start to emerge among individuals with different musical backgrounds, suggesting a disparity in ability to recall a rhythm among groups with varying musical experience. This difference is further supported by an experiment conducted by Habibi, Wirantana, & Starr (2014). In this study, the researchers monitored behavioral and brain activity that occurred in both musicians and nonmusicians during rhythmic variations from pairs of unfamiliar melodies. Musicians greatly outperformed nonmusicians in detecting these deviations and showed greater activity in the frontal-central areas of the brain. These results suggest that musical training may have an effect on brain activity involved in processing temporal irregularities, even of unfamiliar melodies (Habibi, Wirantana, & Starr 2014). Attempts have also been made to divide rhythms into a hierarchy that is placed in different kinds of memory (Brower 1993). The ways in which rhythm has been defined and divided provides insight into how we perceive rhythms and why certain rhythms are easier to remember than others.

Many of the experimental studies that study participants’ abilities to reproduce rhythms reference rhythms that are similar. The term “similar” may seem subjective upon first hearing it, which is a potential problem of these studies. Cao, Lotstein, & Johnson-Laird (2014) took to objectively define similar rhythms and look at the specific characteristics that make up related rhythms. Their experiments displayed that rhythms of the same “families” had the same pattern of interonset intervals, which is the space between the start of two adjacent tones (Cao, Lotstein, & Johnson-Laird 2014). Their experiments also revealed that errors in reproducing rhythms by tapping often yielded rhythms of the same family. This shows that temporal patterns in rhythms play a major role in how we perceive rhythms to be similar, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Manipulating aspects of a rhythm has been shown to have a variety of effects on how well participants can remember and reproduce a certain rhythm. The best cue for identifying a piece of music is the combination of rhythm and pitch (Hébert & Peretz 1997). In their experiment, Hébert and Peretz (1997) demonstrated that rhythm alone tends to be an insignificant indicator of a musical excerpt and less effective than pitch alone. On the other hand, other studies demonstrate the strength of melody recall with rhythm over pitch. Silverman (2010) revealed in his experiment that participants were better able to digitally recall musical excerpts with the condition of only being presented with the rhythm of a melody. In this study, participants listened to six treatment conditions of a melodic excerpt and were asked to demonstrate their memory of the different conditions by a digital recall task. Participants showed the greatest error with the pitch only and both rhythm and pitch conditions (Silverman 2010). Familiarity showed no effect in this experiment. Also, music majors outperformed non-music majors, another indication that musical experience plays in a role in rhythmic recall. A specific manipulation of rhythm that has shown to have an effect on recall is the presentation of the rhythm. Shehan (1987) showed that in second- and sixth- grade students, rhythm reproduction performance was much higher for a combination of aural and visual presentation, rather than one type of presentation alone. Also, the sixth-grade participants learned the rhythm twice as quickly as the second-grade participants (Shehan 1987). This reveals how maturation and age have a large effect on the ability to remember and recall a rhythm. Information gained from this experiment could be used to improve music education for children in presenting rhythms in a manner that is more efficient for them to learn it.

Rhythmic patterns and memory capabilities have been examined in individuals with various developmental or learning disabilities. One group of people who has been studied is those with amusia. Amusia is a loss or impairment of musical capabilities usually caused by brain disease or an injury to the brain. Results of experiments testing those with amusia have suggested that pitch and rhythm processing centers in the brain are independent of each other. Murayama, Kashiwagi, Kashiwagi, & Mimura (2004) found that participants with amusia still showed preserved rhythmic memory, even though their pitch memory was damaged. This supports the theory that pitch and rhythm operate on separate neural subsystems (Murayama, Kashiwagi, Kashiwagi, & Mimura 2004). Rhythmic processing appears to be spared in pitch deafness as well (Phillips-Silver, Tolvalnin, Gosselin, & Peretz 2013). However, other experiments have observed extreme difficulty among amusic individuals in synchronizing to musical rhythms. No such difficulty was seen in synchronizing to noise bursts, which suggests that timing impairments among amusic people are limited to music (Bella & Peretz 2006). These sometime conflicting results call attention for the need of more experimentation perhaps with stronger manipulations.

Many studies have explored the relationship between music and learning. These studies have focused on children, since this is a time of significant learning. I will focus on the studies examining the affects of dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder, on music perception. It has been shown that in children with dyslexia, musical discrimination predicts phonological skills (Forgeard, Schlaug, Norton, Rosam, & Iyengar 2008). Accurate perception of musical structures is related to literacy development in children (Huss, Verney, Fosker, Mead, & Goswami 2011). Also, children without dyslexia generally outperform those with dyslexia in rhythm recall tasks. The correlation of linguistic abilities and musical abilities indicates that linguistic and non-linguistic auditory input are connected and involved in tasks that directly relate with developmental problems, such as reading (Anvari, Trainor, Woodside, & Levy 2002). Results such as these have prompted research to test whether musical intervention in children with disorders such as dyslexia may help improve reading or linguistic skills. One such experiment introduced a short-term music curriculum in second-grade students with and without a specific learning disability (Register, Darrow, Swedberg, & Standley 2007). Significant improvement in word knowledge and reading skills were observed in both groups, showing that improved musical skills may also translate to improved linguistic skills.

Much ground has been made in the study of memory and rhythm. In particular, the connection that rhythmic perception and memory have with skill areas outside of music such as language is now better understood. These results can be used in the future to better education and improve reading skills in youth, which are enormous applications that will hopefully prove to be extremely beneficial in the near future.



Shehan, P. (1987). Effects of rote versus note presentation of rhythm learning and retention. Journal of Research in Music Education, 35(2), 117-26.

Silverman, M. (2010). The effect of pitch, rhythm, and familiarity on working memory and anxiety as measured by digit recall performance. Journal of Music Therapy, 47(1), 70-83.

Cao, E., Lotstein, M., & Johnson-Laird, P. (2014). Similarity and families of musical rhythms. Music Perception, 31(5), 444-469.

Krumhansl, C. (2000). Rhythm and pitch in music cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 126(1), 159-179.

Huss, M., Verney, J., Fosker, T., Mead, N., & Goswami, U. (2011). Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology. Cortex, 47(6), 674-689.

Hébert, S., & Peretz, I. (1997). Recognition of music in long-term memory: Are melodic and temporal patterns equal partners? Memory and Cognition, 25(4), 518-533.

Brower, C. (1993). Memory and the Perception of Rhythm. Music Theory Spectrum, 15(1), 19-35.

Habibi, A., Wirantana, V., & Starr, A. (2014). Cortical Activity During Perception of Musical Rhythm: Comparing Musicians and Nonmusicians. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind & Brain, 24(2), 125-135.

Phillips-Silver, J., Toiviainen, P., Gosselin, N., & Peretz, I. (2013). Amusic does not mean unmusical: Beat perception and synchronization ability despite pitch deafness. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 30(5), 311-331.

Bhide, A., Power, A., & Goswami, U. (2013). A rhythmic musical intervention for poor readers: A comparison of efficacy with a letter-based intervention. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(2), 113-123.

Anvari, S., Trainor, L., Woodside, J., & Levy, B. (2002). Relations among musical skills, phonological processing, and early reading ability in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 83(2), 111-130.

Bella, S., & Peretz, I. (2003). Congenital Amusia Interferes with the Ability to Synchronize with Music. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 999, 166-169.

Register, D., Darrow, A., Swedberg, O., & Standley, J. (2007). The Use of Music to Enhance Reading Skills of Second Grade Students and Students with Reading Disabilities. Journal of Music Therapy, 44(1), 23-37.

Forgeard, M., Schlaug, G., Norton, A., Rosam, C., Iyengar, U., & Winner, E. (2008). The Relation Between Music and Phonological Processing in Normal-Reading Children and Children with Dyslexia. Music Perception, 25(4), 383-390.

Murayama, J., Kashiwagi, T., Kashiwagi, A., & Mimura, M. (2004). Impaired pitch production and preserved rhythm production in a right brain-damaged patient with amusia. Brain and Cognition, 56(1), 36-42.



Embodied Cognition and Kinesthetic Motion Literature Review

Slow, fast, fluid – these adjectives can be applied to the facets of rhythm, tempo, and articulation of either movement or music. In fact, there is not much dispute that the auditory and vestibular systems are, in fact, linked. Human movement studies have been involved in everything from pedagogical approaches to memory and entrainment. This literature review addresses how physical body movements can be linked to music, touching upon embodied cognition, physical movement and motion capture technology, how movement to music affects beat perception, developmental studies about rhythmic performance, and substrates behind rhythm affection motor behavior. Not only are brain areas traditionally assumed to only be associated with performing kinesthetic actions now being linked to auditory beat perception, these neuroscience studies are being used alongside behavioral studies that show how body movements can help parse the metric structure of music (Toivianen 2010).

Leman (2008) focuses on the presence of goal-directed action in music perception, embodied cognition thus assuming interaction between an organism and its environment. Leman also mentions Hanslick’s theory of moving sonic forms; just as dance is an undefined structure of form relationships, so is music. An organism’s reaction to the moving sonic form of music is corporeal, providing support to embodied cognition being shaped by aspects of the body. Under the impression that movement can enhance listening, a study attempting to measure vestibular influence on auditory metrical interpretation (Phillips-Silver Phillips-Silver & Trainor, 2008) found that movement of the head, but not legs, affects meter perception. Drawing upon previous work that showed that body movement could help distinguish between metrically ambiguous rhythmic sound patterns, Phillips-Silver & Trainor (2005, 2007) were able to both isolate the vestibular system and test without any vestibular input with the end result of proving that the vestibular system and auditory information are indeed integrated in perception.

Ranging from spontaneous to deliberate body movements, dance is a form of corporeal interpretation of music that can be captured by various technological methods. Eerola et al. (2006) investigated the corporeal movement of toddlers to music using a high-resolution motion capture system. Toiviainen et al. (2010) applied kinetic analysis, body modeling, dimensionality reduction, and signal processing to data acquired by attaching reflectors to 28 joint markers on participants’ bodies. Eigenmovements, according to Alexandrov et al. (2001), are “movements along eigenvectors of the motion equation.”

A high-resolution motion capture system was used in the 2010 Toiviainen study to identify the most typical movement patterns, or eigenmovements, synchronized to different metrical, or beat, levels. PCs (principal components) are a reduced group of uncorrelated variables transformed into a large group of variables, the first five pertaining to the rotation of the upper torso, lateral swaying of the body, mediolateral arm movement, (four does not vary significantly) and vertical arm movement. The beat-level data can be summarized as follows: The one-beat level corresponded with mediolateral and vertical arm movements, the two-beat level with mediolateral arm movements and rotation of the upper torso, and the four-beat level with lateral swaying of the body and rotation of the upper torso. This observation was in line with their hypothesis that “faster metric levels are embodied in the extremities, and slower ones in the central parts of the body.” The torso’s significant mass, and thus kinetic energy, can be thought of in terms of the previously mentioned study’s focus on vestibular motion (in connection to the torso). Even a relatively dated study using motion capture like a virtual dance and music environment at UC Irvine (Beliaqua et al., 2001) used a data stream from placement of acceleration sensors on strategic body parts in order to transform motion into sound.

Mitchell et al. (2001) postulates that similar emotions generated from music and dance can be a means of matching them, accordingly suggesting that their simultaneous presentation might increase the chances of a match even with few similarities. The cross-modality mainly taken into account is emotion, presented as a representation of visual, auditory, or kinesthetic imagery that could potentially serve as a connector in memory between “temporally dissociated visual observations of a dance and auditory experience of the music that inspired it.” There may be a correlation of movement to ‘groove,’ as well, keeping in mind that some rhythms may only be inhibited by adding the additional stimuli of movement (Petr et al., 2011).

The auditory and dorsal premotor cortices were activated for longer tap times (louder tones) in a study (Zatorre et al., 2006). First hypothesized was that the more salient meters would most affect movement entrainment, also modulating brain regions driven by these auditory–motor interactions. Five parametric levels of metric saliency were created to test the hypothesis by increasing the contrast in sound intensity between accented and unaccented notes. Ultimately, the posterior STG and dPMC showed the most function connectivity in auditory-motor interactions. However, these findings can also be applied to neural components such as “mirror neurons,” due to the muscle memory enhanced by repetition of movement, for example by drummers reproducing the exact same sound at the same tempo.

In conclusion, a clear distinction needs to be made between what kind of movement is being integrated with auditory stimuli. Movements follow a hierarchical organization depending on the proximal/distal characteristic of the limb used (Peckel et al., 2014), and can even depend on loudness of tone as well. Music “has a pervasive tendency to rhythmically engage our body,” (Dalla Bella et al., 2013), but we still are not able to fully pin down the neural substrates involved, not only because the cross-modality of areas like the pre-motor cortex are involved in so many bodily functions. Current studies are focusing on modeling hierarchically organized temporal patterns induced by external rhythms. Questions to take away from this can include that if new temporal patterns are presented, do they have basis in past, known, patterns, and can movements be applied to this same exploration?



All Things Groove: A Brief Literature Review

All Things Groove: A Brief Literature Review
Ryan Davis


It is practically indisputable that listening to music is a multidimensional experience. Engaging in a musical experience as a listener is a particularly complex phenomenon, and it is especially curious that we, as human beings, often experience a compulsion to move along to the music that we hear. We seem to receive some sort of satisfaction from this aural-to-physical connection, and this engagement perhaps heightens our overall musical and personal experience. The concept of groove, which in recent years has become a widely researched topic, is a means to learn more about the musical properties that invite a listener into a more profound relationship with the music. When one hears the word groove, it likely sparks imagery of a comfort zone, or perhaps a consistent momentum of sorts, or even being in a positive state of mind. In a musical context, groove is a rather broad term, and brings forth many questions when searching for its precise meaning. What in fact makes music groovy? Can groove exist in any type of music, or is it restricted to a select few genres? Is groove simply a matter of musical taste, that is highly personal and subjective, or can it be universally identified, regardless of who is listening? Many researchers have sought out to answer these questions and many more, using a diverse series of approaches. For the purposes of this literature review, the content will be organized in a fashion firstly addressing the many definitions and functions that have led numerous researchers to a greater understanding of groove, followed by the implications of groove in different musical genres, in hopes of discovering new insights. One might question the importance or merit of delving into the meaning of groove. After all, could our understanding of groove best be left explained as a simple path to enjoyment for the listener? Perhaps an even greater enjoyment and appreciation of music begins to exist as we investigate the deeper components of groove and its impact.

Charles Keil, in his “Defining Groove” (2010), explains how the word itself has yet to be understood as having a singular concrete definition, and is still not currently interchangeable with words akin to “swing, flow, focus, grace, in the pocket…etc”. Keil’s approach to defining groove is an engaging one, in that he seems to seek his definition through somewhat casual observations, pulled from a remarkable wealth of personal musical experience, as opposed to rigorous scientific testing. He speaks of a groove being created via “participatory discrepancies” and defines them as “measurable differences or discrepancies in attack points and release points along a time continuum.” Therefore, is groove perhaps achieved by musicians consciously or unconsciously creating subtle rhythmic imprecision or by taking small rhythmic liberties? Using a rhythm section as an example, Keil explains further: “the drummer and bassist are consistently in synchrony with each other, but they are also consistently discrepant, different, slightly out of phase or in and out of phase with each other.” While it is not possible to know if all performing musicians are aware of this rhythmic push-and-pull as it occurs in real time, it is helpful to acknowledge that some degree of rhythmic flexibility is present. Another notable definition is from Oliver Senn and Lorenz Kilchenmann, taken from “The Secret Ingredient” (2009): “its principal meaning describes the music’s effect on musicians and listeners: music with a good groove incites people to engage emotionally with the music, and to participate with their bodies.” This reinforces the notion that listening to music is indeed a complex activity, with many linked human systems simultaneously reacting. Maria A. G. Witek provides another possibility: “due to the repetitiveness of the groove, it was hypothesized that microtiming in groove might facilitate a type of arousal that is not peak-based, but rather reflects the groove state of listening, which has been conceptualized as a steady mental state in synchronization with the music,” (Groove Experience, 2009). Focusing primarily upon the repetitive naures of music, Richard Middleton, in his “In the Groove or Blowing Your Mind?” (1986) concludes that “the production of musical syntaxes involves active choice, conflict, redefinition; at the same time, their understanding and enjoyment take place in the theatre of self-definition, as part of the general struggle among listeners for control of meaning and pleasure.” It becomes increasingly clear that a universal definition of groove is difficult to create, however one can certainly summarize that it would encompass rhythm, pleasure, microtiming, and physical movement.

In “Groove as Familiarity with Time” (2013), Rowan Oliver explores in depth many fascinating aspects of groove that emphasize its presence in a variety of musical genres. As each genre of music is defined by its unique set of sonic characteristics, it is of significance that a musician has the ability to manipulate sound in such a way that makes groove malleable between styles. Oliver explains that a musician can use timing as an expressive force, as long as he/she is aware of the “contextual senses of time”, which he divides into three useful categories: “1) In the first category, the contextual sense of time is contingent upon shared prior knowledge on the part of all musicking participants, as in the reggae ‘one-drop’ rhythm, for example. 2) In the second category, a musician ‘sets up’ the contextual sense of time in some way prior to the start of a performance proper for the benefit of the other musicking participants, as in styles based around a stated timeline pattern. 3) The third category relies on a shared sense of metronomic time, although in practice this tends to be more of a general feeling of an underlying isochronous pulse rather than a precisely ‘metronomic’ understanding.” Oliver’s distinctions can perhaps be applied to detect groove in a variety of types of music. Stereotypically, groovy music is usually linked to styles of swing, jazz, and funk, although these principles can certainly be related to other genres. The way in which a conductor gives a preparatory beat gesture to an orchestra no doubt influences the following sonic outcome, and it’s possible that such gestures impact the groove of a type of music. Mark Jonathan Butler’s “Unlocking the Groove” (2006) investigates the realm of electronic dance music (EDM), which in the last decade has exploded in popularity, and points to relevancy when discussing groove. Many EDM tracks have a driving, quasi-hypnotic repetitive structure, and undoubtedly cause listeners to move along to the music.

Petr Janata, Stefan T. Tomic, and Jason M. Haberman present another refreshing approach to studying groove. In “Sensorimotor Coupling in Music and the Psychology of the Groove” (2012), Janata aimed to define groove as a psychological construct, and used surveys of university students to see if participants identified similar constructs that could be appropriated to groove. “In closing, we consider the construct of the groove in relation to the evolution of entrainment and social behavior. Synchronizing with the beat is the simplest form of entrainment, not only with a musical stimulus, but also with other individuals.” Many of the survey’s musical examples were taken from a diverse selection, and reinforce that groove is a flexible and far-reaching concept.

As shown, the research directed towards the somewhat elusive concept of groove is growing, and we are beginning to identify salient characteristics that aid in describing the mystifying experience of listening to music. The dialogue for developing our understanding of groove is in flow, and perhaps Charles Keil said it best, “that commitment to keeping up your musical life and keeping your participatory mode going is what keeps us on the same wavelength, keeps us in the same groove,” (Music Grooves, Charles Keil & Steven Feld, 1994).


Works Consulted/Cited

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

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.

Keil, Charles. Defining Groove. (2010). PopScriptum 11: The Groove Issue. University of Berlin.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

STEP 3: Literature Review – UPDATED DEADLINE!

The literature review for your individual project is now due by Monday, October 27, 12:00 PM (Virtual Lab posting & emailed PDF).

As noted in class, I am expecting the lit review to be about 4-6 pages (standard font & margins, double-spaced), not including the bibliography. Your lit review should start with an introduction that defines the topic and identifies the different strands and questions related to the topic, and how your lit review is organized. The organization of the contents should follow from how your topic subdivides itself; this is often done either topically (themes or questions within the topic) or methodologically (different research methods or paradigms used to investigate the questions related to the topic). It is also not uncommon to have a 2-tier organization. Once your lit review is completed, post a copy on your individual page, with the bibliographic citations linked to the Virtual Lab’s main Bibliography sub-wiki, and email me a PDF copy as well.

As noted previously, you should not put the project away and stop thinking about it. Make a working plan that will allow you to read the materials, have time to digest the information, and produce a well-crafted review that will keep your project on tracks.

Here are the two lit reviews I showed in class:

Repp, B. H., (2005), “Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of the tapping literature”

Repp, B. H., & Su, Y. H., (2013), “Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of recent research (2006-2012)

STEP 2: Preliminary Annotated Bibliography (Due October 7; Virtual Lab Posting)

Goal: Collect 10-12 directly relevant sources in preparation for your literature review (due October 16).

Suggested Process:

  1. Review my feedback on your proposal. Revise as needed.
  2. Identify a set of keywords based on the topical areas relevant to your “big” question. Pick one or two more specific questions you identified and identify a set of keywords related to these as well.
  3. Carry out your database search using these keywords and at least three scholarly databases (e.g., RILM, PsycArticles, Google Scholar, Web of Science). Based on this initial search, identify a few sources that are particularly promising and use these to identify more specific descriptors or subjects for additional searches, as well as related articles (e.g., cited articles or articles that cite these sources).
  4. After you have identified at least 3-4 promising sources, review the abstracts more closely and browse through the articles. Refine your question (or select the one question that seems to be the most promising), balancing personal interest with available research, course topic, and other practical considerations.
  5. Conduct additional searches using keywords, subjects, and other descriptors related to your revised question to complete your set. You should strive to have a variety of source types, including review articles and experimental reports as well as music-theoretical or ethnographic studies related to the different aspects of your question.
  6. Browse through your sources. Take special note how the authors discuss the topic, what are some of the issues to consider, the experimental design or empirical method used, and findings (i.e., “state of research”). How will each source contribute to your literature review? Do the sources fall into two or more categories?
  7. Prepare the preliminary annotated bibliography. The bibliographic citations should use the APA author-date format; annotations should be short but informative, and focus on how this article is related to your question and/or how you plan to use it. (You might also find it useful to collate the published abstracts.)
  8. Post your preliminary bibliography on your personalized category on the Virtual Lab with your “big” question as title.

STEP 1: RESEARCH QUESTION (Must be Approved by September 26)

Goal: Submit a potential question (or set of questions) on which you plan to carry-out research.


1. Identify a topical area of interest to your work as a musician, music theorist, or cognitive scientist.

2. Brainstorm: What are the big questions pertaining to this topic? What are some of the concepts and tools that have been used to explore those questions? What are the findings so far? Why should we care, i.e., what are the implications for your field of study and for the larger community? What are some issues and what is your position on these issues?

3. Identify a small set of more specific questions that you imagine you could reasonably engage within the confines of this course. You may find it helpful to also specify the methods you plan to use to explore the question.

4. Submit the question (or set of questions) by posting it in your personalized tab/category. You may also make an appointment with me for additional feedback.