Open science was a bit of a theme at this year’s meeting of the Soceity of Music Perception and Cognition. Around my NYU hosting duties, I got to moderate and contributed to the Symposium on Open Science, a two part affair intended to encourage open science practices in our Music Cognition community. The whole project was coordinated by Dominique Vuvan, and also involved Psyche Loui, Bob Slevc, Dave Baker, and Haley E. Kragness.
The symposium’s focus was on making open science practices accessible to music science researchers by bringing in concrete examples from our own work and discussing how open science can help interdisciplinary research. Full slides are available here.
Two points from the audience discussion stuck with me:
– Opening up project materials beyond the publication may be good for accessibility and efficiency but it can also makes researchers more vulnerable. In order to lessen this potential cost, it is important for the community to maintain a culture of respect while addressing potential problems with work that is shared. Attacking researchers for honest mistakes or different interpretations will only discourage the sharing we need for better science.
– It’s important to make space for exploratory research on empirical data along side the more controlled hypothesis testing paradigms that fit into pre-registration practices. Theory development and the honing of methods have been collapsed into experiment reporting that often then use inappropriate statistics. We need space and appropriate language for the work of developing hypotheses, instead of rewarding the practice of changing the story for the journal article. (I expect there is plenty written about this in the philosophy of science. I should go check.)
Out of this session also came the request for the conference to have an open repository for posters and talk slides. With a few clicks and a couple emails the OSF meeting repository came into being and so far has several dozen of the 360+ presentations shared at the conference.
This year’s ICMPC recorded all of the talks in support of virtual attendance. Here is my long talk (20 min + Q&A) on coordination in respiration between audience members.
The Audience’s Breath: Collective Respiratory Coordination in Response to Music
F. Upham, H. Egermann, and S. McAdams
Performers have used respiratory metaphors to describe the reactions of the audience’s engagement with a performance. We refer to an audience holding their collective breath, or sighing with a release of tension. Significant regularities in respiratory phase have been measured in participants’ responses over multiple listenings to some recorded music (Sato, Ohsuga, & Moriya, 2012), but this fleeting alignment has not yet been measured in audiences at live concerts.
With recordings of respiration from audience members at live performances, we aim to evaluate whether there is measurable respiratory alignment between them to some or all pieces. If there is coordination, we consider which phase of the respiratory cycle shows the highest degree of alignment and how this could relate to audience members’ experience of the music performed.
Respiration data from two audiences were evaluated using new techniques in respiratory phase detection and measurement of coordination. From the first audience, 40 participants sat amongst a larger group in an experiment-led concert of chamber music including three pieces of contrasting genres. The second audience was composed of 48 participants who were presented solo flute music, some recorded and some played live. Half of this group continuously reported the unexpectedness of the music while the remaining half reported their felt emotional responses through handheld devices.
Five components of the respiratory phase were evaluated for coordination using activity analysis with parameters tuned to each: Inspiration Onset, High Inspiration Flow interval, Expiration Onset, High Expiration Flow interval, and Post-Expiration Pause. These phases relate to the mechanics of respiration and the sensory consequences of air exchange.
Significant coordination in respiratory phase components were observed between audience members to most stimuli, but the most coordinated phases varied from piece to piece. High Inspiratory and Expiration Flow intervals were most often significantly coordinated, compared to onsets. Post Expiratory Pauses, which would count instances of breath holding, were only coordinated in one piece. Less than half of participants engage in phase alignment concurrently, however numerous instances relate well to developing theories of respiration/cognition interactions, including differences in the alignment patterns of participants per rating task.
Audiences engage in measurable collective respiratory coordination with live performance and recorded music through simultaneous inspirations and expirations. However, these behaviours are performed by only a subset of participants at a time. This inter-participant difference is consistent with the results from repeated response experiments, in which only some participants have shown respiratory coordination with their own previous listenings. The fact that different phases of respiration showed coordination underlines the possibility that multiple mechanisms like embodied listening, attention, and hearing facilitation may be encouraging adjustments in audience members’ respiratory sequences for alignment.
Sato, T. G., Ohsuga, M., and Moriya, T. (2012). Increase in the timing coincidence of a respiration event induced by listening repeatedly to the same music track. Acoustical Science and Technology, 33(4):255–261
Finally, the podcast has begun. The So Strangely podcast explore new work in Music Science by having academics recommend recent publications. The recommender and I interview the first author on how the project came about and what it means for music, science, and research. This is a podcast for people interested in music science, students and academics, but we also try to make the conversation friendly to people in the many different disciplines contributing to the area.
Listen to the first few episodes now on The So Strangely Podcast website and subscribe to catch future works. So far we’ve discussed papers in Music Perception, Music Information Retrieval, and Neuroscience, and we are always on the look out for more.
On June 21st, 2018, I successfully defended by doctoral dissertation, Detection of Respiratory Phase Adaptation to Heard Music. Without a doubt, listeners do subtly and subconsciously adjust when they breathe to fit with music, lining up specific respiratory phases to specific moments, but this happens under limited conditions. Only some moments of music draw respiratory phase alignment, and some people show stronger susceptibility to music’s coordinating influence.
With the extra three months granted by my committee, my quantitative analysis of listener respiration was extended with qualitative analysis of alignment patterns in repeated response studies and audience experiments. Activity analysis identified moments of exceptional phase alignment and music theory enriched my interpretation of the corresponding stimulus. Out of 36 pieces of music, 21 provoked identifiable moments of alignment and out of these arose four theories of how listeners’ breathing could be drawn or cued by what they heard:
Embodied perception/motor imagery: Some listeners toke inspirations when they might have, were they performing the music. This happens to vocal music, whether or not the performers’ breaths could be heard in music recordings. Examples from one case study participant can be seen in the attached figure, with inspirations (blue stars on chest expansion measurements) coinciding with performer inspirations during this a cappella folk song (highlighted in red on sound wave).
Inspiration suppression for attentive listening: The noise of inspiration and expiration can get in the way of auditory attention and there are (rare) moments in music when listeners seem to delay breathing in or out so as to hear better. A moment like this is also in the attached figure, with post-expiration pauses extended from 97.4 s.
Respiratory marking of salient moments: Listeners would sometimes breath in our out with recurring elements of musical motives, as if acting with something important or familiar. This was more common in structurally complex music and moments of strong affect, such as powerful lyrics, increasing tension, or exceptional aesthetics.
Post-event respiratory reset: In a few cases, well timed respiration cycles occurred after events, like after the last line of a song. This is reminiscent of relaxing sighs and similar actions through to help the respiratory system reset back to normal relaxed quiet breathing.
Causal mechanisms for these four theories are suggested by current respiration and music cognition research, however they each require further exploration on experimental data beyond what was studied here. And it is also possible they might arise more frequently than could be captured by these statistics, limited as they are to behaviour that co-occurs with the music at least 20-40% of the time. Between a theorize mechanism and well designed experiments, it may yet be possible to detect these deviation in action, giving us further clues into how listeners are engaging with the music they hear.
More details to come in the shape of my final dissertation document. To be completed in the next month or so.
Titled “Activity Analysis and Coordination in Continuous Responses to Music”, this paper explains what we can learn about the consistency of activity in continuous responses to music using the example of Continuous Ratings and (with the appendicies) all the technical details behind the results.
Abstract: Music affects us physically and emotionally. Determining when changes in these reactions tend to manifest themselves can help us understand how and why. Activity Analysis quantifies alignment of response events across listeners and listenings through continuous responses to musical works. Its coordination tests allow us to determine if there is enough inter-response coherence to merit linking their summary time series to the musical event structure and to identify moments of exceptional alignment in response events. In this paper, we apply Activity Analysis to continuous ratings from several music experiments, using this wealth of data to compare its performance with that of statistics used in previous studies. We compare the Coordination Scores and nonparametric measures of local activity coordination to other coherence measures, including those derived from correlations and Cronbach’s α. Activity Analysis reveals the variation in coordination of participants’ responses for different musical works, picks out moments of coordination in response to different interpretations of the same music, and demonstrates that responses along the two dimensions in continuous 2D rating tasks can be independent.