Nonverbale Synchronie und Musik-Erleben im klassischen Konzert
Non-verbal synchrony and musical experience in classical concerts

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Christoph Seibert
Fabian Greb
Wolfgang Tschacher


Bodily movements and communication are not part of the accepted behavioral practice in classical concerts and therefore are avoided or suppressed by audience members. In this regard, recent approaches in cognitive science and aesthetics that conceptualize musical experience as embodied or distributed among several agents do not seem to be appropriate for the description of musical experience within classical concerts. Against this background we investigated whether coordinated bodily movements do occur in classical concerts within the audience and between audience members and musicians. Furthermore, we explored potential associations between non-verbal synchronies and various aspects of musical experience. We conducted a research concert with diverse pieces of chamber music being presented to 22 participants. After each piece, the participants filled out a questionnaire covering several aspects of their concert experience (liking of the piece and the interpretation, familiarity, feelings of connectedness to the musicians and co-listeners, absorption, impulse to move). Stage and audience were recorded with three stationary video-cameras. As an indicator for coordinated bodily movements, we measured nonverbal synchrony as correlations of motion energy time series. Motion energy was operationalized as amount of pixel-changes in consecutive frames of the video-signal. This method allowed us to investigate non-verbal synchronies among the musicians, within the audience and between audience and musicians. We found strong synchronization between musicians and small to medium synchronization within the audience. No synchronization was found between musicians and the audience. With regard to the relation of non-verbal synchrony and aspects of musical-experience, the association of individual synchronization with absorption and the feeling of being connected to the musicians was significantly negative. Consequently, a focus on the music performance might be interpreted as inhibiting the synchronization with co-listeners. Our findings are consistent with theories of embodied musical experience. However, they do not bolster varieties of embodied simulation theory, which assume a mimesis of sound producing actions. Furthermore, our results do not support the idea of musical experience being distributed among several agents when jointly listening to music in concert. This explorative study offers ways to empirically investigate embodied and distributed approaches to musical experience in a live concert setting. In the light of recent attempts to diversify classical concert experience, also by delivering potentials of interaction and bodily movement, it is also of relevance for musical practice.

non-verbal synchrony; motion energy; embodied musical experiencing; distributed musical experiencing; concert research

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