The dynamics of musical participation

Andrea Schiavio, Pieter-Jan Maes, Dylan van der Schyff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we argue that our comprehension of musical participation-the complex network of interactive dynamics involved in collaborative musical experience-can benefit from an analysis inspired by the existing frameworks of dynamical systems theory and coordination dynamics. These approaches can offer novel theoretical tools to help music researchers describe a number of central aspects of joint musical experience in greater detail, such as prediction, adaptivity, social cohesion, reciprocity, and reward. While most musicians involved in collective forms of musicking already have some familiarity with these terms and their associated experiences, we currently lack an analytical vocabulary to approach them in a more targeted way. To fill this gap, we adopt insights from these frameworks to suggest that musical participation may be advantageously characterized as an open, non-equilibrium, dynamical system. In particular, we suggest that research informed by dynamical systems theory might stimulate new interdisciplinary scholarship at the crossroads of musicology, psychology, philosophy, and cognitive (neuro)science, pointing toward new understandings of the core features of musical participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-626
Number of pages23
JournalMusicae scientiae
Issue number3
Early online date19 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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© The Author(s) 2021.

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