Physical Commitment Makes Performers Appreciate Their Music More

Summary: According to researchers, embarking in physical activity makes people appreciate the musical sounds they produce more, even if the sounds do not correspond with their personal musical tastes.

Source: Max Planck Institute.

Physical exertion increases the appreciation of the sounds produced in music making, even they don’t correspond to one’s own musical style.

Many musicians are familiar with the phenomenon: Their music sounds much better while performing it live than when they listen back to the recorded version. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have now found out that the physical commitment makes performers appreciate their music more. The findings could not only help people access new styles of music, but could also make music therapy more successful.

Previously it was assumed that music is perceived as pleasant when it is to one’s taste. Those who are more into the harsh sounds of metal music will not be enthusiastic about the softer melodies of pop songs. Similarly, those devoting themselves to Italian operas will not derive pleasure from the monotonous bass sounds of electronic music.

The fact that this feeling is greatly dependent on the way in which we experience music has recently been demonstrated by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig: “We observed again and again how grandpas enjoyed electronic music together with their grandchildren, although they had never been interested in this style before”, says Thomas H. Fritz from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig. “As soon as they produce the music on their own instead of passively absorbing it, their aesthetic perception towards other music genres changes dramatically.”

Movement creates music

This effect can be observed particularly strongly in Jymmin, a method whose name derives from a combination of jamming and gym—a mixture of free music improvisation and sports. In Jymmin, fitness devices are modulated in a way that allows music to be created by performing exercises. Using an abdominal trainer, pull bar or stepper, singles tones can be produced and modulated. In this manner and with the help of special music software developed at Leipzig’s Max Planck Institute, sports equipment can be used like musical instruments. “People who deem themselves totally unmusical and who have never held a musical instrument in their hands are thereby able to make music”, explains Fritz, who first spoke about this technique four years ago. “When this occurs in combination with physical exertion we can measure a positive bias.” This means that people experience the music as much more pleasant and feel rewarding effects as soon as they produce it on their own—even when the style of music is not to their taste.

These observations could also explain why musicians perceive their own performance as more aesthetically satisfying than just listening to it. Neuroscientists working with Fritz also talk about the Band Effect in which joint music making also plays a crucial role.

Image shows a woman playing the violin.
Past psychological studies have shown that personal engagement enhances the perceived quality of a subject. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

“Due to our findings, music can now be applied as a form of therapy in a much easier and broader way”, states Fritz. In previous studies, Jymmin has been shown to trigger several positive psychological effects by increasing personal motivation and mood. Until recently, Fritz and his team presumed that it has to be highly individualised, meaning that it needs to be adapted to one’s personal taste in music to be applicable to a large patient group.

Increased tolerance towards different music styles

Thanks to the current insights, they now know that this is unnecessary: “We carried out this study in patients with drug addiction or chronic pain, namely people who feel agitated by every little thing and easily become irritable”, the cognitive scientist explains. “By physically exerting themselves to make music, the actual style becomes less important.“ Instead, they experience self-efficacy to produce and modulate sounds on their own. By doing this, not only do they become much more in tune with their own body, but they also increase their tolerance towards previously rejected genres. “This provides the opportunity to also take group music therapy into account.“ The intriguing point is, patients lose the inhibitions that people often have about music therapy. Jymmin offers them just a few degrees of freedom, meaning that the individual cannot do anything wrong—and the personal experience is still aesthetic.

But how can the Band Effect be explained? Past psychological studies have shown that personal engagement enhances the perceived quality of a subject. Since Jymmin and making music on a regular instrument require high physical commitment, neuroscientists presume that this leads to a performer’s greater aesthetic appreciation towards the music.

About this neurosience research article

Source: Lauren Ingeno – Max Planck Institute
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “The Band Effect – Physically strenuous music making increases aesthetic appreciation of music” by Tom Fritz, Lydia Schneider, and Arno Villringer in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Published online October 17 2016 doi:10.3389/fnins.2016.00448

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article

[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Max Planck Institute “Physical Commitment Makes Performers Appreciate Their Music More.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 28 February 2017.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/music-physical-commitment-6169/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Max Planck Institute (2017, February 28). Physical Commitment Makes Performers Appreciate Their Music More. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved February 28, 2017 from https://neurosciencenews.com/music-physical-commitment-6169/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Max Planck Institute “Physical Commitment Makes Performers Appreciate Their Music More.” https://neurosciencenews.com/music-physical-commitment-6169/ (accessed February 28, 2017).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]


Abstract

The Band Effect – Physically strenuous music making increases aesthetic appreciation of music

The esthetic appreciation of music is strongly influenced by cultural background and personal taste. One would expect that this would complicate the utilizability of musical feedback in paradigms, such that music would only be perceived as a reward if it complies to personal esthetic appreciation. Here we report data where we assessed esthetic appreciation of music after 1. a physically strenuous music improvisation and 2. after passive music listening (where participants esthetically assessed similar music). Data are reported from two experiments with different patient groups: 1. Drug abuse patients, and 2. Chronic pain patients. Participants in both experiments performed Jymmin, a music feedback method where exercise equipment is modified in such a way that it can be played like musical instruments by modulating musical parameters in a composition software. This combines physical exertion with musical performance in a fashion that has previously been shown to have a number of positive psychological effects such as enhanced mood and reduced perceived exertion. In both experiments esthetic appreciation of musical presentations during Jymmin and a control condition without musical agency were compared. Data show that both patient groups perceived the musical outcome of their own performance as more esthetically pleasing than similar music they listened to passively. This suggests that the act of making music (when combined with physical exertion) is associated with a positivity bias about the perceived esthetical quality of the musical outcome. The outcome of personal musical agency thus tends to be perceived as rewarding even if it does not comply with personal esthetic appreciation. This suggests that musical feedback interventions may not always have to be highly individualized because individual taste may not always be crucial. The results also suggest that the method applied here may be efficient at encouraging music listeners to actively explore new musical styles that they might otherwise be reluctant to listen to (e.g., avant-garde music). The results also hint toward a deeper understanding of why musicians, who exert themselves physically during musical performances to generate music and regardless of the type of music they are playing, typically find the physically demanding experience esthetically satisfying.

“The Band Effect – Physically strenuous music making increases aesthetic appreciation of music” by Tom Fritz, Lydia Schneider, and Arno Villringer in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Published online October 17 2016 doi:10.3389/fnins.2016.00448

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