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Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

Learn about the psychology of music and movement and how researchers study music-related body motion in this free online course.

15,249 enrolled on this course

A collage of performing musicians.

Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

15,249 enrolled on this course

  • 6 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn about why and how music makes you move.

Music is movement—a bold statement that we will explore together in this free online course.

Together we will study music through different types of body motion. This includes everything from sound-producing keyboard actions to energetic dance moves.

You will learn about the theoretical foundations of embodied music cognition and why the body is crucial for how we experience the emotional moods in music. We will also explore different research methods, including 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 challenging to sit still when you experience a good groove.

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

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

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

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

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds When you’re listening to music, are you only listening?

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

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

Skip to 1 minute and 12 seconds Hi, 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.


  • Week 1

    Introduction & History

    • Welcome to Music Moves

      Let's get started! First you will get to know the educators and then you can introduce yourself to your fellow learners.

    • Historical Overview

      A brief historical overview on how the listening experience has evolved.

    • Music-Related Body Movement

      When talking about music we need a agree on the same concepts to avoid misunderstandings. In this video we start off with an introduction to key terminology.

    • Introduction to Research Methods

      There are many different approaches and methods available when studying music.

    • A wrap-up of Week 1

      What have we learnt so far this week and what lies ahead?

  • Week 2

    Perception & Performers

    • Welcome to Week 2

      An introduction to Week 2

    • Perception & Cognition

      How do we experience music? Here you will learn about the psychological foundations for what we call "embodied music cognition".

    • Sound-Producing Actions

      Here we explore the different types of actions that can produce sound: impulsive, sustained and iterative.

    • Sound and Movement Analysis

      What types of methods can be used to study music and movement? Here we will explore computer-based sound analysis and get an overview of qualitative movement analysis.

    • A wrap-up of Week 2

      What have we learnt so far this week and what lies ahead?

  • Week 3

    Multimodality & Mocap

    • Welcome to Week 3

      An introduction to Week 3.

    • Multimodality

      Music is not only about listening with our ears. In fact, all our senses and modalities are involved when we experience music. This is what we often refer to as "multimodal" perception.

    • More music-related movements

      When a pianist presses the pedals on the piano, she modifies the sound. Here we look at such sound-modifying actions and other types of non-sound-producing movements.

    • Motion Capture

      Researchers often use various types of technologies for recording and measuring music-related body movement. Here we will explore different types of quantitative analysis methods and look into a musical motion capture lab.

    • A wrap-up of Week 3

      What have we learnt so far this week and what lies ahead?

  • Week 4

    Pulse & Perceivers

    • Welcome to Week 4

      An introduction to Week 4.

    • Pulse and Entrainment

      We will have a closer look at musical pulse, and the term entrainment

    • Perceivers

      The movements of perceivers can be described using many of the same terms as for performers' movements

    • Mobile Motion Capture

      Motion capture does not have to take place in a dedicated laboratory. Certain technologies are more suited than others for capturing outside the lab.

    • Peer review

      You will use what you have learned so far in the course to write a short text on the role of multimodality in perception.

    • A wrap-up of Week 4

      What have we learnt so far this week and what lies ahead?

  • Week 5

    Groove & Gestures

    • Welcome to Week 5

      An introduction to Week 5.

    • Groove

      When does music groove and how can you identify a groove? Is it the groove that makes you move?

    • Gestures and Coarticulation

      These terms *gesture* and *coarticulation* are key to understand how music and movement are related.

    • Video Analysis

      Video recordings are important in movement analysis.

    • A wrap-up of Week 5

      What have we learnt so far this week and what lies ahead?

  • Week 6

    Emotion & Motion

    • Welcome to Week 6

      An introduction to Week 6.

    • Bodily Metaphors

      Is there only a word-like connection between emotion and motion, and how are these connected to music?

    • Biosensors and NIME

      Biosensors are used to measure physiological signals in the body. Both biosensors and the various types of motion capture technology we have looked at so far can be used in developing new interfaces for musical expression (NIME).

    • A wrap-up of Week 6

      What have we learnt during this course and will you be more moved by music in the future?

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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 how the body entrains to musical rhythms

Who is the course for?

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

What software or tools do you need?

No specific tools necessary.

Who will you learn with?

Professor of music technology, University of Oslo. Director of the fourMs Lab and Director of RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time, and Motion

Associate Professor in Music Technology, University of Oslo. http://www.uio.no/english
Research interests: Music and motion, motion capture technologies, machine learning, music cognition

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.

I'm currently following the MCT Master's program at the University of Oslo. I'm also working as a Research Assistant at RITMO. I'm originally from Romania and I've been a musician my entire life.

Who developed the course?

University of Oslo

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

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 2 Sep 2024

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