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Methods for studying music-related body movement
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Methods for studying music-related body movement

In this video, Alexander Jensenius introduces some of the methods used by researchers to record and analyse music-related body motion.
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In this video, we will look at some of the methods we use to study music-related body motion. Let us first briefly recall that when we say music-related body motion, we mean all types of motion carried out by performers and by perceivers. Performers are different types of musicians and dancers, while perceivers are audience members during concerts, people dancing at clubs, or people’s spontaneous motion to music in everyday life. As such, music-related body motion is a diverse category, ranging from being purely instrumental, such as hitting a piano key, to be purely communicative, such as gesticulating in the air.
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To add to the complexity, music-related motion may occur in any type of location, for example a concept hall, at home, in the street, or in the club setting. So the challenge for music researchers interested in studying motion is to choose methods that allow for studying such motion in a systematic manner. It is also necessary to study the motion in relation to, for example, a musical score, sound recordings, and different types of contextual data. In this and future videos, we will look more into how we do this. But let me first start by introducing some more challenges we need to think of when studying music-related movement. First of all, the aim. Why is music-related motion interesting in this particular study?
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What kind of study will this be part of? What kind of interaction is planned, such as, for example, looking at relationships between sounds and humans, or human sound, or even relationships between humans and humans in the musical context. Second, the subjects. How many subjects will be studied? What is the demography, the gender, age, their music motor abilities, personal context, for example are they familiar or unfamiliar with the task? Will they be alone? Will they be a group? Will they move together in a group? And what is the social context of the study? The third thing to think about is what type of motion is to be expected, and in which parts of the body the motion will be carried out.
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Are they large or small? Are they slow or fast? Will the subjects be stationary, or will they move about? Is it necessary to find the absolute position in space, or is relative motion information sufficient? We also need to think about the environment. Will the study be carried out in a controlled environment, such as in a lab setting. Or in what we call an ecological setting, such as a concert hall. Is there electrical power available? How much time is there to set up equipment? What are the lighting conditions? Et cetera.
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Also, if you start to think about the musicians themselves, are they going to use any artefacts or instruments? Or will there be other types of tools or technologies that need to be recorded in the set up. And how will they be captured and synchronised together with the other types of video, audio, and data recorded? When it comes to the audio, what type of sound recording is needed? How many channels? What type of sampling frequencies bit rates are to be used? And what is the necessary level of synchronisation between motion and sound data? When it comes to recording video, what type of video recording is needed? How many cameras, what resolutions and frame rates are to be used?
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And finally, a tricky one. The data handling. How will all these different types of data be synchronised? What software are you going to use to analyse this? What data formats will you use? What type of storage, backup, and sharing solutions are planned? So these are a number of the challenges that we need to look at. Finally, before starting to look at music-related movement recordings, it’s also useful to think of the type of analysis being planned. There are numerous analytical approaches to choose from, and we’re going to present some of this in this course. Generally, though, we can talk about two main categories, descriptive analysis on one hand, and functional analysis.
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Through the descriptive analysis, we talk about the kinematics, for example the velocity or acceleration of body parts, some spatial features, such as the size and position in the room. Or temporal features, such as the frequency, how fast are things and movements happening. When it comes to the functional analysis, we talk about how the motion has functional properties. For example, are we talking about sound producing or sound accompanying actions? And/or other types of communicative types of movements. The descriptive analysis methods may often be associated with quantitative analysis approaches. That is, working with numbers in different ways and using statistical methods to extract meaningful information from these numbers. Functional analysis, on the other hand, may be based on qualitative analysis approaches.
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For example, using text-based reasoning and interpretation. In most real life cases, however, often we are talking about combination of both descriptive and functional analysis. And using, also, both qualitative and quantitative methods. As such, these methods should be seen as complimentary rather than competing with each other.

What types of methods do researchers use for studying music-related body motion?

In this first methodology “track”, Alexander Refsum Jensenius presents the differences between descriptive and functional analysis, and qualitative and quantitative methods.

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