S killed ensemble musicians coordinate with high precision, even when improvising or interpreting loosely defined notation. Successful coordination is supported primarily through shared attention to the musical output; however, musicians also interact visually, particularly when the musical timing is irregular. This study investigated the performance conditions that encourage visual signaling and interaction between ensemble members. Piano and clarinet duos rehearsed a new piece as their body motion was recorded. Analyses of head movement showed that performers communicated gesturally following held notes. Gesture patterns became more consistent as duos rehearsed, though consistency dropped again during a final performance given under no-visual-contact conditions. Movements were smoother and interperformer coordination was stronger during irregularly timed passages than elsewhere in the piece, suggesting heightened visual interaction. Performers moved more after rehearsing than before, and more when they could see each other than when visual contact was occluded. Periods of temporal instability and increased familiarity with the music and co-performer seem to encourage visual interaction, while specific communicative gestures are integrated into performance routines through rehearsal. We propose that visual interaction may support successful ensemble performance by affirming coordination throughout periods of temporal instability and serving as a social motivator to promote creative risk-taking.
Musicians anticipate and monitor the expressive effects of their actions during performance. Previous research suggests that the ability to imagine desired outcomes can partially compensate when auditory feedback is absent, permitting continued performance even though information about whether these outcomes are realized is unavailable. Research also suggests that musical imagery ability improves with increasing musical expertise. This study tested the hypothesis that expert musicians’ superior imagery abilities enable reduced reliance on auditory feedback, relative to novice musicians, during the performance of loudness changes (i.e., dynamics). Musicians reproduced the dynamic changes of sounded scales using a loudness slider as the availability of imagery and auditory feedback was manipulated. Contrary to expectations, only novices showed impairment in performing dynamics during imagery disruption and auditory feedback deprivation. Experts showed limited dependence on both sources of information, suggesting greater flexibility in how musical information is mentally represented, compared to novices, and an improved ability to adapt planning strategies.
Musicians anticipate the effects of their actions during performance. Online musical imagery, or the consciously accessible anticipation of desired effects, may enable expressive performance when auditory feedback is disrupted and help guide performance when it is present. This study tested the hypotheses that imagery 1) can occur concurrently with normal performance, 2) is strongest when auditory feedback is absent but motor feedback is present, and 3) improves with increasing musical expertise. Auditory and motor feedback conditions were manipulated as pianists performed melodies expressively from notation. Dynamic and articulation markings were introduced into the score during performance and pianists indicated verbally whether the markings matched their expressive intentions while continuing to play their own interpretation. Expression was similar under auditory-motor (i.e., normal feedback) and motor-only (i.e., no auditory feedback) performance conditions, and verbal task performance suggested that imagery was stronger when auditory feedback was absent. Verbal task performance also improved with increasing expertise, suggesting a strengthening of online imagery.