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Music & science

musicanscience.jpgEngaging in music has been part of human culture for centuries. The reason is most likely due to music’s potential to evoke strong emotions in both musicians and listeners. What influences our perception of music? What affects the musician’s gesture and overall performance?

Movements represent an essential part of musical performances. First of all, the musician’s gesture is creating the sound we enjoy but at the same time sharing expressively his/her emotion and interpretation of a musical piece. Secondly, the movements, despite being trained intensively, can be affected by numerous conditions.

We focuse on different mechanisms affecting musical gestures: the presence of an audience, the use of metaphors in the context of musical training, and the different nuances and expressive intents. It is therefore divided in 4 subprojects:

  • We investigate the impact of the presence of an audience on the movements of musicians using virtual reality and physiological recordings.
  • We create a scale of most commonly used metaphor categories to describe music, ex: space, flow, force. We then submit those categories to musicians and analyze the resulting effect on the production and perception of musical gestures.
  • We study the perception of different musical nuances (piano-forte) with functional MRI by expert musicians compared to regular people. We also vary the amount and quality of information given. This highlights the potential of trained musicians to recognized more efficiently nuances and musical gestures.
  • We focus on the perception of different level of expressivity of musical performance in different modalities; visual, auditory and a combination of the two. We use functional MRI to compare expert musicians and regular people as well as motion capture and analysis.

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