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Title: '... and I feel good!' : the relationship between body-movement, pleasure and groove in music
Author: Witek, Maria
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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In many musical cultures, people synchronise their bodies to the rhythmic patterns of the music, and such embodied engagements are one of the most overtly enjoyable forms of musical appreciation. However, the ways in which rhythmic structure, body-movement and pleasure are related remains unclear. The present thesis directs a broadly psychological, yet multi-methodological and interdisciplinary, approach towards this relationship, centring on the rhythmic structure of syncopation in groove-based funk music. Through perceptual experiments, computational modelling, rating surveys, neuroimaging and motion-capture recording, syncopation was found to relate, in primarily negatively linear and inverted U-shaped ways, to finger-tapping performance, perceptions of stability, subjective desire to move and feelings of pleasure, neural activity in motor and reward areas, and force, synchrony and periodicity in body-movements. These relationships also depended on individuals’ musical training, dancing experience and groove familiarity. Ecological and embodied theories of perception and a phenomenology of groove provide a backdrop to the empirical findings, on the basis of which it is suggested that the different relationships between syncopation in groove and perceptual, subjective, neural and corporeal attributes interact in reciprocal ways. It is proposed that syncopation invites the body to physically enact the musical structure and directly participate in the rhythms of groove, due to the perceptual tension and ‘open spaces’ afforded by the perception of metric events in syncopation. In groove, body, mind and music extend into each other and this distributed musical process has affective significance. Since the physical pleasures of dancing to music are such a historically and culturally ubiquitous phenomenon, the empirical findings and theoretical proposals of this thesis make significant contributions towards a much-needed coupling of affective and embodied theories of music.
Supervisor: Clarke, Eric Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Music ; Psychology ; Cognition ; Behavioural Neuroscience ; Emotion ; music psychology ; groove ; rhythm ; pleasure ; body-movement