Past research proposed a couple of explanations for the groove phenomenon. Ethnomusicologist Charles Keil (1987) hypothesized that timing asynchronies on a millisecond level, and small discrepancies in dynamics, pitch or timbre (= Participatory Discrepancies or PDs) are responsible for causing the groove. Laurence Zbikowski (2004) on the other hand described repetitive, multi-layered patterns on a macro level (multi-bar units) as relevant for creating groove. Mark Doffman (2008) integrated Keil’s and Zbikowski’s approaches by considering both PD patterns and macro-structures in his analysis of three jazz performances.
In a recent empirical study, Matthew Butterfield (2010) challenged Keil’s claim that temporal PDs are relevant for the generation of groove. Butterfield tested for the salience of temporal PDs in perception. Since the participants of his study barely recognized PDs above chance level, he concluded that PDs are of minor relevance for producing groove. The design of Butterfield’s study, however, raises some concern: he tested the cognitive time discrimination skills of the participants; he did not measure the impact of PDs on the emotions and body motion behaviour of participants. Hence, Butterfield’s dismissal of the PDs as irrelevant for the groove experience appears to be premature.
The proposed project aims to clarify how temporal PDs influence the experience of groove in listeners of recorded jazz and funk examples. The empirical data will be collected in the course of two listening tests with 80 participants each. The stimuli will be derived from expert duo (bass and drums) performances by extensive audio editing. The emotional impact of the stimuli will be measured with the SAM (Self-Assessment-Manikin) method and with a newly developed method, called EAG (Emotional Assessment of Grooviness). The influence of the stimuli on the physical behaviour of the participants (such as finger or foot tapping or head bobbing) will be measured with video-based motion capture technology and surface electromyography (EMG).
The project pools the competences of the Music Performance Study Group at Hochschule Luzern (music performance, audio recording, audio editing and analysis) and of the Institute for Musicology and Music Pedagogy at Giessen University (empirical methods in music psychology and medical science, statistical analysis).