Patterns of coordination in simultaneously and sequentially improvising jazz musicians

Setzler, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019).  Patterns of coordination in simultaneously and sequentially improvising jazz musicians.  Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1035-1040). Montreal, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.

In Joint Action (JA) tasks, individuals must coordinate their¬†actions so as to achieve some desirable outcome at the grouplevel.¬†Group function is an emergent outcome of ongoing,¬†mutually constraining interactions between agents. Here we¬†investigate JA in dyads of improvising jazz pianists. Participants‚Äô¬†musical output is recorded in one of two conditions:¬†a real condition, in which two pianists improvise together as¬†they typically would, and a virtual condition, in which a single¬†pianist improvises along with a ‚Äúghost partner‚ÄĚ ‚Äď a recording¬†of another pianist taken from a previous real trial. The conditions¬†are identical except for that in real trials subjects are¬†mutually coupled to one another, whereas there is only unidirectional¬†influence in virtual trials (i.e. recording to musician).¬†We quantify ways in which the rhythmic structures spontaneously¬†produced in these improvisations is shaped by mutual¬†coupling of co-performers. Musical signatures of underlying¬†coordination patterns are also shown to parallel the subjective¬†experience of improvisers, who preferred playing in trials with¬†bidirectional influence despite not explicitly knowing which¬†condition they had played in. These results illuminate how¬†mutual coupling shapes emergent, group-level structure in the¬†creative, open-ended and fundamentally collaborative domain¬†of expert musical improvisation.

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