Research Project

Project description

People experience togetherness when playing music with others. Togetherness can be defined as a spectrum of experiences that arise when we share cognitive-emotional states with others. Some study has been made of skilled performers’ experiences of togetherness as a component dimension of group flow, but little is known about its behavioural or psychophysiological correlates or how audiences perceive it.

This project investigates togetherness in music ensembles and its behavioural and psychophysiological correlates from performers’ and audiences’ perspectives. Three main research questions are addressed: 1) how interpersonal interactions manifest during periods of high and low performer-rated togetherness; 2) whether certain psychological markers, such as empathic perspective taking ability, promote feelings of togetherness; and, 3) whether specific performance conditions, such as audience presence and opportunity for visual interactions between co-performers, facilitate togetherness.

To answer these questions, we are conducting a combination of performance and perception experiments. Quantitative and qualitative data are collected, including acoustic, body motion, and physiological data simultaneously recorded during music performances (i.e., breathing, heart activity, gaze behaviour, and pupil size). In some cases, subjective ratings of togetherness are also collected. This project takes an interdisciplinary approach, and combines and integrates insights and methods from different disciplines (performance science, psychology, computer science, acoustic engineering, cognitive science).

This project constitutes the first large-scale empirical and interdisciplinary investigation of togetherness in ensemble performance. Our results are expected to make a substantial contribution to the study of music ensemble performance, by identifying how togetherness manifests behaviourally, and how it is experienced by performers and perceived by audiences.