SC1 Cooperative Music-Making and Musical Virtuosity


Course content:
1. A Quick and Dirty Introduction to Musical Rhythm
2. What is Synchronization?
3. Music as Social Synchronization
4. Musical Virtuosity, a Solo Art(?)
This course will begin by introducing basic concepts of musical rhythm, with an emphasis on their perceptual and cognitive aspects. The nature of synchronized behaviour in general, and musically synchronized behaviour in particular will then be discussed under the rubric of sensorimotor entrainment and joint action. This will then allow us to understand how the nature of and constraints upon rhythmic production and coordination affect musical virtuosity, explaining (at least in part) why virtuosity is a solo art.


Conceptual: To understand entrainment and joint action in musical contexts, along with their neural correlates (at least in so far as they are understood).

Methodological: NA


Lecture 1: An introduction to Musical Rhythm
Clarke, E. (1999). Rhythm and Timing in Music. In The Psychology of Music, 2nd edition, ed. Diana Deutsch. New York: Academic Press.
*London, J. (2001). Rhythm. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. J. Tyrrell and S. Sadie. Vol. 21: 277-309, or Oxford Music Online.
London, J. (2012). Hearing in Time: Psychological aspects of musical meter (2nd Edition). London, Oxford University Press.
Toussaint, J. (2012). The Geometry of Musical Rhythm. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

Lecture 2: What is Synchronization?
Large, E. (2008). Resonating to Musical Rhythm: Theory and Experiment. In The Psychology of Time, ed. S. Grondin. West Yorkshire: Emerald.
*Repp, B. (2005). Sensorimotor Synchronization: A review of the tapping literature. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 12.6: 969-992.
Repp, B. & Y. Su. (2013). Sensorimotor Synchronization: A review of recent research (2006–2012). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, DOI 10.3758/s13423-012-0371-2
Vorberg, D. & A. M. Wing. (1996). Modeling Variability and Dependence in Timing. In the Handbook of Perception and Action, Volume 2: Motor Skills, ed. H. Heuer and S. W. Keele. New York, Academic Press: 181-262.

Lecture 3: Music as Social Synchronization
*D’Ausilio, A., et al. (2015). "What can music tell us about social interaction?" Trends in Cognitive Sciences 19(3): 111-114.
Himberg, T. (2014). Interaction in Musical Time. University of Cambridge, PhD. diss.
Knoblich, G. & N. Sebanz. (2008). Evolving Intentions for Social Interaction: From entrainment to joint action. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363: 2021-2031.
Nowicki, L., W. Prinz, M. Grosjean, B. Repp, & P. Keller. (2013). Mutual adaptive timing in interpersonal action coordination. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 23: 6-20
*Pecenka, N., & P. Keller. (2011). The role of temporal prediction abilities in interpersonal sensorimotor synchronization. Experimental Brain Research, 211: 505-515
Phillips-Silver, J., C. A. Aktipis, & G. A. Bryant. (2010). The Ecology of Entrainment: Foundations of Coordinated Rhythmic Movement. Music Perception 28: 3–14.
van der Steen, M. C., et al. (2015). "Sensorimotor synchronization with tempo-changing auditory sequences: Modeling temporal adaptation and anticipation." Brain Research 1626: 66-87.
Chen, J. L., V. B. Penhune, et al. (2008). Moving on time: Brain network for auditory-motor synchronization is modulated by rhythm complexity and musical training. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 20(2): 226-239.

Lecture 4: Virtuosity
Fairhurst, M. T., et al. (2013). Being and feeling in sync with an adaptive virtual partner: Brain mechanisms underlying dynamic cooperativity. Cerebral Cortex 23(11): 2592-2600.
Ito, M. (2008), Control of mental activities by internal models in the cerebellum. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9: 304-313.
*Schlaug, G. (2006) Brain structures of musicians: Executive functions and morphological implications. In Music, Motor Control and the Brain, Altenmüller, E., et al., eds. New York: Oxford University Press 141-152.
Zuk J, Benjamin C, Kenyon A, Gaab N (2014) Behavioral and Neural Correlates of Executive Functioning in Musicians and Non-Musicians. PLoS ONE 9(6): e99868. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099868

* indicates primary reading(s) for each lecture

Course location


Course requirements


Instructor information.

Instructor's name

Justin London


cf. website


JUSTIN LONDON is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Music, Cognitive Science, and the Humanities at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, USA. He is currently involved in several joint research projects: microtimings and ensemble coordination in Malian percussion music (with Rainer Polak and Nori Jacoby), the effect of bodily movement on tempo perception (with Petri Toiviainen, Birgitta Burger, and Marc Thompson), and how the microstructure of musical sounds affects their rhythmic properties (with Anne Danielsen and Alexander Refsum Jensinus). He has held visiting professorships at the Universities of Cambridge, Jyväskylä, and Oslo. He served as President of the Society for Music Theory in 2007-2009, and will serve as President of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition in 2017-19.