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Music and the MindEssays in honour of John Sloboda$
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Irène Deliège and Jane Davidson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199581566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199581566.001.0001

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Quantifying the beat-inducing properties of conductors’ temporal gestures, and conductor–musician synchronization

Quantifying the beat-inducing properties of conductors’ temporal gestures, and conductor–musician synchronization

Chapter:
(p.325) Chapter 16 Quantifying the beat-inducing properties of conductors’ temporal gestures, and conductor–musician synchronization
Source:
Music and the Mind
Author(s):

Geoff Luck

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199581566.003.0016

This chapter summarizes a series of empirical and naturalistic studies which have examined the beat-inducing properties of conductors’ temporal gestures. In empirical studies, pre-recorded conductors gestures were presented to participants under laboratory conditions, and relationships between indicated perception of the beat and spatio-temporal features of the gestures explored using statistical methods. In naturalistic settings, live performances of ensembles and conductors were recorded, and similar relationships between the ensemble’s performance and the conductors’ gestures examined. A key component of both types of study was the use of an optical motion-capture system to make high-quality three-dimensional recordings of the conductors gestures from which spatio-temporal features can be automatically extracted. Laboratory-based studies indicate that, when synchronizing with pre-recorded gestures in isolation, musicians tend to synchronize with periods of negative acceleration along the trajectory, and low position in the vertical axis. Changes in direction alone do not appear sufficient to induce the perception of a beat. These findings are partially supported by the naturalistic studies, in which musicians synchronized with both the conductor and their fellow musicians. Here, ensembles tend to be most highly synchronized with periods of maximal deceleration along the trajectory, followed by periods of high vertical velocity. Thus, it appears that changes in speed (acceleration or deceleration) along the trajectory of a gesture are most likely responsible for the induction of a visual beat.

Keywords:   music psychology, musician-conductor synchronization, temporal gestures, musicians, signal processing, motion capture, computational feature extraction, kinematics

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