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Groove and movement

What types of music make you want to dance? In this interview, Professor Anne Danielsen from the University of Oslo discusses her research field.
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Hello. Hello. How would you define groove in music? A groove is both, kind of, the basic rhythmic pattern of a song and it’s also the way of playing it. So when you say this tune is going to have a swing groove, it’s both the basic swing pattern, but it’s also a particular manner of playing that pattern. But, of course, groove is also an experienced quality. So it’s when you listen to a groove, you– if the groove is poorly played, you don’t experience it as groovy. A successful groove is when we experience groove as groovy. And that’s more of an aesthetic quality. It’s when you actually succeed in doing, in playing, in conveying the groove in the right way.
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And in music psychology, for example, this aesthetic quality has been defined as something– or the aspect of the groove that makes you want to move. So it’s when the groove induces dance or bodily movement, that’s when the groove is groovy. So you’d say that it’s connected to movement? Yeah, groove is deeply connected to motion and movement, absolutely. But of course, you don’t need to move to a groove. You can listen. You can sit still and experience this quality. That’s no problem. But it’s still connected to movement. I think when a groove is groovy, it makes you want to move.
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So the experience of groove, from the perspective of the listener or the dancer, is when a groove really makes you want to move, to get out on the dance floor and use your body. Your book about the funk grooves of James Brown and Parliament is called Presence and Pleasure. Can you explain why? It’s because I thought it was a cool title, of course. That’s one aspect. I think when you’re in this condition of being in the groove, that’s an extreme experience of being present in the now, in something that happens actually now. You’re not worried about the past and the future. You’re just in the situation, the things that happen. And that’s why I call it presence.
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Is this similar for those that play? Yeah, actually, I think that’s kind of a premise for being able to play, groove in the right way, is to be extremely focused on the moment. But I guess that goes for much music making. I mean music, musicing in general, you have to be extremely present in the musicing now, so to speak. And the pleasure? And the pleasure is linked to this presence because I think– it’s also, of course, the pleasure produced by the fact that you’re actually dancing or using your body.
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But it’s also, I think this experience of being present in both in the body and in the now and in the beauty, being completely absorbed in the situation, in the now, is an experience that many modern people long for, because it’s a kind of experience that– it’s rare, in a way, in a modern society. Is it problematic to use pleasure as a description of how you feel when you’re listening to music? No, I don’t think so. Why? Why would you mean that? But in musicology? Of course, yeah, I see your point. Because pleasure is often linked to a bodily experience or it’s linked to– it’s kind of anti-rational. .
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Or it could be seen as something that does not involve reason, in a way. Hedonistic? Yeah, it’s been linked to hedonistic music cultures. And of course, many dance cultures have these aspects, but it’s not necessarily a contradiction between feeling pleasure and being sensible. Thank you.

What types of music make you want to dance? Have you tried to think about whether there are certain elements that appear in this music more often than others?

In this video the qualities of groove in music will be discussed, and you will meet Professor Anne Danielsen from the University of Oslo. She has done much academic work on rhythm and groove in music, including the funk grooves of James Brown and Parliament.

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Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

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