Swinging to the beat: Movement induction in electronic dance music

Hauke Egermann, Alexander Förstel, Nico Lehrbach, Markus Wende

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Overt beat induction occurs when an individual, listening to rhythmic music, spontaneously starts moving her/his body in a synchronized manner -- e.g. by tapping her/his finger or foot. However, it is not well understood which specific rhythmic features increase the likelihood of beat induction. An interesting candidate is the ``swing`` parameter used in electronic music production, which induces a delay of every second eighth note and thus creates a ``swinging`` feeling. We tested within subjects the effects of three experimental factors on the intensity of beat synchronized movements: 1) Movement instruction (none/naive vs. instructed beat synchronization), 2) the intensity of the ``swing``-parameter, and 3) music excerpt. Three pieces of rhythmic electronic music with six different swing ratios each were randomly played to 18 participants. Bodily expressions of beat induction were measured using a motion capture system with reflectors attached to the subjects' feet, hands and the head. In the naive condition, the subjects were told that the reflectors will be used ``later on`` for another part of the study. In the instructed condition, participants were explicitly encouraged to move to the music. The order of the conditions was randomised between participants. The motion capture data were transformed to the frequency-domain and the individual movement intensities were extracted at frequencies corresponding to the BPM of the stimuli. A repeated-measures Hierarchical Linear Model revealed that both condition and piece have a significant influence on the movement intensities. The swing parameter, however, exhibits only a weak, non-significant relationship with the beat-induction movements.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music
EditorsJane Ginsborg, Alexandra Lamont, Stephanie Bramley
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherChapel Press
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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