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      Jazz improvisers' shared understanding: a case study

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          Abstract

          To what extent and in what arenas do collaborating musicians need to understand what they are doing in the same way? Two experienced jazz musicians who had never previously played together played three improvisations on a jazz standard (“It Could Happen to You”) on either side of a visual barrier. They were then immediately interviewed separately about the performances, their musical intentions, and their judgments of their partner's musical intentions, both from memory and prompted with the audiorecordings of the performances. Statements from both (audiorecorded) interviews as well as statements from an expert listener were extracted and anonymized. Two months later, the performers listened to the recordings and rated the extent to which they endorsed each statement. Performers endorsed statements they themselves had generated more often than statements by their performing partner and the expert listener; their overall level of agreement with each other was greater than chance but moderate to low, with disagreements about the quality of one of the performances and about who was responsible for it. The quality of the performances combined with the disparities in agreement suggest that, at least in this case study, fully shared understanding of what happened is not essential for successful improvisation. The fact that the performers endorsed an expert listener's statements more than their partner's argues against a simple notion that performers' interpretations are always privileged relative to an outsider's.

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          Most cited references 25

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          The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data

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            The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data

             JR Landis,  GG Koch (1977)
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              Joint drumming: social context facilitates synchronization in preschool children.

              The human capacity to synchronize body movements to an external acoustic beat enables uniquely human behaviors such as music making and dancing. By hypothesis, these first evolved in human cultures as fundamentally social activities. We therefore hypothesized that children would spontaneously synchronize their body movements to an external beat at earlier ages and with higher accuracy if the stimulus was presented in a social context. A total of 36 children in three age groups (2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 years) were invited to drum along with either a human partner, a drumming machine, or a drum sound coming from a speaker. When drumming with a social partner, children as young as 2.5 years adjusted their drumming tempo to a beat outside the range of their spontaneous motor tempo. Moreover, children of all ages synchronized their drumming with higher accuracy in the social condition. We argue that drumming together with a social partner creates a shared representation of the joint action task and/or elicits a specific human motivation to synchronize movements during joint rhythmic activity.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                08 August 2014
                2014
                : 5
                Affiliations
                1Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research New York, NY, USA
                2Centre for Music and Science, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK
                Author notes

                Edited by: David Wasley, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK

                Reviewed by: Brian C. Wesolowski, University of Georgia, USA; Patrick Healey, Queen Mary University of London, UK

                *Correspondence: Michael F. Schober, Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research, 80 Fifth Avenue, Room 710, New York, NY 10011, USA e-mail: schober@ 123456newschool.edu

                This article was submitted to Cognitive Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00808
                4126153
                25152740
                Copyright © 2014 Schober and Spiro.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 10, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 53, Pages: 21, Words: 12926
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research Article

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