Anticipatory cognitive processes in music performance

10.11.2010 - 18:00
10.11.2010 - 20:00

Dr. Peter Keller

MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig

Much work in the field of music cognition has investigated anticipatory processes (such as melodic expectation and harmonic priming) that facilitate the perception of musical structure, affect, and meaning by listeners. Relatively little work has focused on anticipatory processes that guide music performance. These processes are especially important in the context of ensemble performance.

The temporal precision that characterizes interpersonal coordination in musical ensembles requires co-performers to predict each others’ deviations from metronomic timing. The ability to do so is functional, perhaps in different ways, across a wide variety of musical settings, ranging from thoroughly rehearsed performances to spontaneous improvisations. I will describe the results of four studies that sought to address anticipatory cognitive/motor processes -- specifically, internal models that covertly simulate others’ actions -- that enable temporal prediction in such settings.

The first study required synchronization with one’s own and others’ performances in the context of virtual piano duos (each comprising a live performer and a recording) in a preliminary investigation of the role of action simulation in ensemble coordination. The second study explored the relationship between such simulation and musical imagery by examining correlations between the quality of coordination in live piano duos and performance on an independent laboratory task assessing the vividness of auditory imagery. The third study employed both virtual and live dyadic finger-tapping tasks to focus under more controlled conditions on the relationship between online temporal prediction and auditory imagery abilities. Finally, the fourth study investigated whether brain mechanisms associated with action simulation are sensitive to differences between spontaneously improvised and thoroughly rehearsed performances. Collectively, the results of these studies shed light on the nature of the relationship between action simulation and temporal prediction in a variety of musical contexts.

MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig