Interactive Head Motion in Piano-Singing Duo Performances

This study focuses on the interactions between Western classical musicians as manifested in their body motion. Specifically, this investigation analyses if and how the phrase structure of the pieces that the ensembles perform, and the empathic profile of the musicians relate to their head motion during ensemble performances. We recruited twenty-four advanced piano and singing students, and pre-assessed their empathic trait. Musicians rehearsed and performed two pieces from the Lied repertoire, and their front-head motion as well as audio and MIDI recordings of the performances were analysed.

We found that the similarity of musicians’ body motion corresponds to the phrase levels of the pieces performed. We also observed that empathy trait can affect the leader-follower relationships between musicians, depending on piece and performance. In one case, we found that the more empathic the singer, the higher the tendency for the singer to lead and pianist to follow. In other case, the more empathic the singer, the lower the tendency for the singer to lead and pianist to follow.

These results highlight the complexity of the relationship between empathy and body motion in small ensembles in promoting and diffusing leadership between musicians.

For more information, see:

D’Amario, S., Schmidbauer, H., Roesch, A., Goebl, W., Niemand, A. & Bishop, L. (2023). Interperformer coordination in piano-singing duo performances: phrase structure and empathy impact. Psychological Research87, 2559–2582.