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Online course

Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

Learn about the psychology of music and movement, and how researchers study music-related movements, with this free online course.


  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

Why join the course?

Music is movement. A bold statement, but one that we will explore together in this free online course.

Together we will study music through different types of body movement. This includes everything from the sound-producing keyboard actions of a pianist to the energetic dance moves in a club.

You will learn about the theoretical foundations for what we call embodied music cognition and why body movement is crucial for how we experience the emotional moods in music. We will also explore different research methods used at universities and conservatories. These include advanced motion capture systems and sound analysis methods.

You will be guided by a group of music researchers from the University of Oslo, with musical examples from four professional musicians. The course is rich in high-quality text, images, video, audio and interactive elements.

Join us to learn more about terms such as entrainment and musical metaphors, and why it is difficult to sit still when you experience a good groove.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsWhy does music make you move?

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsWhat makes you move to some types of music but not others?

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsWhat are the differences between motion, action, and gesture?

Skip to 0 minutes and 34 secondsHello, my name is Kristian Nymoen. My research is about music technology and music and body movement.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsWhen you're listening to music, are you only listening?

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsHi, my name is Hans Zeiner-Henriksen. My research areas are music and movement, and rhythm and groove.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 secondsHow is the quality of groove and music related to movement?

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsHi, my name is Alexander Jensenius. My main research interest is to understand more about music and movement, and also to develop technologies for creating music through movement. We all know that people move to music, but why is this so? As music researchers, we're interested in understanding more about the theoretical foundations for such movements, and we use different types of methods for studying movements. But what are these? That's what we're going to teach you in this course. Welcome to Music Moves.

What topics will you cover?

  • A historical overview
  • Perception and cognition of music
  • Functional action-sound categories
  • Multimodality
  • Pulse and Entrainment
  • Groove
  • Gestures and Coarticulation
  • Bodily Metaphors
  • Motion Capture
  • Video Analysis
  • Bio Sensors

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Reflect on the importance of the human body in the experience of music
  • Classify different types of music-related body movements
  • Collect information about music-related body movements
  • Describe different types of research methods used to study music-related body movements
  • Explain why groove-based music entrains the body

Who is the course for?

This course is open to everyone. No technical knowledge of music or dance is required.

Who will you learn with?

Alexander Refsum Jensenius

Music researcher
Research musician
Embodied music cognition
New interfaces for musical expression
Associate professor of music technology
Head of Department of musicology, University of Oslo

Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen

I'm an associate professor in musicology at the University of Oslo. I teach, among other subjects, music production and popular music history. My main research focus is on music and body movement.

Kristian Nymoen

Associate Professor in Music Technology, University of Oslo.
Research interests: Music and motion, motion capture technologies, machine learning, music cognition

Mari Romarheim Haugen

PhD research Fellow, Department of Musicology, University of Oslo.
Research interests: Embodied music cognition, music and motion, rhythm and dance.

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1811, the University of Oslo (UiO) is the highest ranked institution of education and research in Norway.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £39.00

Statement of Participation £24.00

Estimate prices in preferred currency

Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.