In an experimental study, we investigated how well novices can learn from each other in situations of technology-aided musical skill acquisition, comparing joint and solo learning, and learning through imitation, synchronization, and turn-taking. Fifty-four participants became familiar, either solo or in pairs, with three short musical melodies and then individually performed each from memory. Each melody was learned in a different way: participants from the solo group were asked via an instructional video to: 1) play in synchrony with the video, 2) take turns with the video, or 3) imitate the video. Participants from the duo group engaged in the same learning trials, but with a partner. Novices in both groups performed more accurately in pitch and time when learning in synchrony and turn-taking than in imitation. No differences were found between solo and joint learning. These results suggest that musical learning benefits from a shared, in-the-moment, musical experience, where responsibilities and cognitive resources are distributed between biological (i.e., peers) and hybrid (i.e., participant(s) and computer) assemblies.
The experience of groove is associated with the urge to move to a musical rhythm. Here we focus on the relevance of audio features, obtained using music information retrieval (MIR) tools, for explaining the perception of groove and music-related movement. In Study 1 we extracted audio features from clips of real music previously rated on perceived groove. Measures of variability, such as the variance of the audio signal’s RMS curve and spectral flux (particularly in low frequencies), predicted groove ratings. Additionally, we dissociated two forms of event density, showing that an algorithm that emphasizes variability between beats predicted groove ratings better. In Study 2 we manipulated RMS levels and groove category (low, mid, and high groove) to confirm that perceived groove is not a function of loudness. In Study 3 we utilized novel music clips that manipulated the frequency of bass and bass drum (low vs. high) and attack time (short vs. long). Groove ratings and tapping velocities tended to be higher and tapping variability tended to be lower when the bass instruments had lower frequencies. The present findings emphasize the multifaceted nature of groove by linking audio and musical qualities to subjective experience and motor behavior.