Alexander Refsum Jensenius

Alexander Refsum Jensenius

Professor of music technology and Deputy Director RITMO, University of Oslo

Location University of Oslo, Norway


  • Yes, they are certainly combined in different ways!

  • Thanks for the feedback! In fact, we are making a new and more specialized course on motion capture now with lots of research examples. The course will hopefully be run for the first time in the autumn this year.

  • Ah, yes, it is finished by now. I will remove the link.

  • By "classical" do you mean acoustic? Yes, it is certainly possible to do that. At UiO, we have for example experimented with creating self-playing guitars:

  • That is an interesting comment, @AndersSalomonLidal. I am actually finalizing a book where I am writing about the differences between acoustic and electroacoustic sound production. There are obvious differences between the two, but the big question is how they function from a cognitive perspective. My main argument is that there are categorical differences...

  • We try to separate between *motion* as a continuous signal that you can measure (using a motion capture system) and *action* as a "chunk" of motion in time and space. An action cannot be directly measured, since there is no objective way of saying when an action starts and stops. However, you can measure its motion, from which you can infer the action.

  • Yes, indeed. We won't provide *the* answer in this course. Rather, we aim to give you a glimpse into a very active research field, working with a mix of theories and methods.

  • Strange. Did the problem persist?

  • Science aims to produce knowledge systematically. This is particularly challenging when we are dealing with subjective phenomena, such as the experience of music. There is no one way of this. Rather, we explore using several different methods, qualitative and quantitative, which we present here in the course. Hopefully, by the end of the course, you will...

  • Ah, great question! Check out this paper from the latest NIME conference, about haptics in music experience:

  • Yes, familiarity with the music is a very important element here!

  • @HelenP Great example. How do the children respond?

  • "Classical music" can refer to a lot of things. Do you have any examples of the type of music you are thinking about?

  • Yes, we have had the same show in Norway. Very entertaining, and super-interesting for us that research music and body movement!

  • Most conservatories have a specialized conductor education. Usually, this is open for students with a degree in instrumental performance.

  • Dalcroze, Laban, Steiner, and others worked on similar types of concepts of embodiment and multimodality in the early 1900s, all of which have been influential in various ways!

  • Sorry about that. For the wrap-up videos, we rely on an auto-caption service. It is not perfect, but hopefully better than nothing...

  • Yes, the terminology may be tricky, particularly because many of the concepts overlap. Let us know if we can help to clarify.

  • Glad to hear that the assignment helped to clarify your thoughts!

  • Welcome, it will be very interesting to hear your perspectives!

  • Yes, I totally agree that there are lots to be done within dance research!

  • @IvorHowell


    As to respiratory behaviour under music-guided trance specifically, I am not sure that we would see strong alignment between the timing of breaths and the music, both because deliberate respiration strategies are often part of meditative practices with music, changing how respiration is controlled under trance, and because of the...

  • @IvorHowell I got a reply from Finn:


    Thank you for the question! I also wondered about absorption as a possible correlate to how susceptible a listener might be to musical influences on their respiratory timing. Studies of respiration under hypnotic suggestion show breathing patterns adapt towards those of imagined activities like cycling in terms...

  • Great idea, you should try to implement that!

  • Yes, there have been some good examples of brainwave-triggered instruments. The first one being that of Alvin Lucier from the 1960s:

  • Cool, this reminded me about the sonic badminton that was proposed some years ago:

  • @GenePierre Yes, indeed!

  • We mentioned the Zoom meeting in last week's wrapup + the weekly e-mail. Sorry you missed it! I also know that it is tricky to find a time that works well across time zones!

    We are moving in with other things now, so I am not sure that we are able to set up another meeting, unfortunately.

    Thanks for posting the robot video! Yes, trying to make machines...

  • Yes, the Theremin is a fantastic instrument, and it was extremely innovative at the time. I have one in my office that I play in once in a while, and it is very challenging to play "in the air" since you do not have any spatial reference. So it is a great instrument to practice your ear.

  • Great example. You should build it!

  • Great example. Yes, these flutes had clearly been prototyped and developed for a long time before these ones were made!

  • We are developing some more specialized methods courses now. There will be a more advanced course on motion capture starting this fall, and, hopefully, we will have a course on pupillometry and one on EEG next spring.

  • Yes, good reflections. I agree that developing "air instruments" based on motion sensing is tricky. One of the assets of a physical instrument is that it is obvious when you play it and not. So when playing in the air, you need to add some other types of constraints to make it work.

  • Cool. This reminded me about the Stockholm stair piano:

  • Great, I would love to try that instrument!

  • Yes, interactive music-dance is exciting. We are currently exploring what we call "shared instruments" between musicians and dancers. See, for example, this performance: which has been described in more detail in this paper:

    We have done some experimentation...

  • The questions that distracted you are great and are exactly what are discussed in the music technology community.

    You mention rhythm, melody and harmony. Many NIMEs also focus on how to control *timbre*, *texture*, and *spatial location*. There is also an increasing focus on audiovisuality, how sound and vision work together in instruments. The latter is...

  • Composers and musicians have always experimented with new technologies, that is how music develops. What is experimental music today, will gradually move into the popular sphere in some decades.

  • True. But without exploration, there won't be much progress?

  • Yes, that is a great piece!

  • Totally agree. The music technology field is based on continuous technical development coupled with artistic exploration.

  • Sorry about that. Have fixed now.

  • Yes, the Myo has unfortunately been discontinued. Have updated the link.

  • Remember that all instruments started out as experimental devices and have been shaped over the years (and centuries).

  • Possibly. But GSR is not a very precise technique, so you will need to make a clever research design.

  • EEG is measuring brain activity by putting electrodes on the head. So it is a different method than GSR, which measures skin conductance. EEG is used a lot, but it is much more challenging to work with than GSR.

  • Lie detectors are actually based on galvanic skin response (GSR) as mentioned above.

    If you think about the pulse sensor in smartwatches, they are based on optical sensing. This is much less precise than measuring using electrocardiograms (EKG) so they are not so often used in research. But I agree that they can be useful for general tracking.


  • Yes, good points. Check out the article "On the Enjoyment of Sad Music: Pleasurable Compassion Theory and the Role of Trait Empathy"

  • Yes, good reflections. Concerning cultural associations, check out this article by our colleague Jonna Vuoskoski:

  • Yes, indeed, there are so many open research questions in this field!

  • Good example. Can you explain why you think it is so sad?

    And concerning the perception of sad music, check out this article by our colleague Jonna Vuoskoski:

  • Great examples. But can you try to explain what it is that creates the emotional response from the two (very different) pieces?

  • Yes, couple dance is definitely more complex, because you have a combination of synchronization to the musical sound and entrainment to your partner's motion.

  • Ah, yes, good points @IvorHowell. As for metaphors and music, you can check out the first chapters of the dissertation by Tejaswinee Kelkar: She is discussing the "universality" of the spatial representations of pitch.

  • You can create motion images with a moving camera, but then you will primarily see the motion of the camera rather than the content of what is filmed. This can be interesting on its own, though... I did some tests of this in a standstill study, where I placed a camera on my head and stood still for ten minutes. Then I created a motiongram based on the video,...

  • Yes, there are numerous examples of the use of such video analysis methods in the arts. In fact, a lot of video effects and VJing techniques are coming from various types of scientific developments.

  • Yes, these are good comments. A couple of things:

    - it is correct that the spectrogram is a representation of the audio signal. As such, it does not tell anything about our perception, but it still useful as a tool to understand more about the signal we perceive.

    - laboratory studies are always challenging, but it can help to make the situation as good...

  • Jazz music can be many different things, from very groovy to rhythmically complex.

  • Thanks for the links. As for the early experimentation, one should not oversee the work of Étienne-Jules Marey happening at the same time as Muybridge.

  • Yes, that is a great idea! If you are into Max programming, you can easily create this based on the MGT for Max:

    You could probably also do it manually by testing ImageSonifyer:

    Would be nice to see...

  • Good question. Yes, "musical gesture" is still a confusing term. In my thinking, it refers to both sound and motion, although both does not have to be visible/audible at the same time. From an embodied cognitive perspective sound and motion are inseparable to start with, so if you hear a sound you will mentally "see" motion, and if you see motion, you will...

  • Great question. No, I don't think you can say that pulse is just multiple beats. The main difference is that beats refer to onsets, while pulse refers to a pattern.

    You can have multiple (irregular) beats without necessarily experiencing a pulse. On the other hand, you may also experience a pulse with the absence of beats. The latter you can test by...

  • Groove is certainly a subjective feature. Some musics are often argued to be more "groovy" than others, but this is still very much based on culture and personal preference.

  • Good question, would be interesting to try!

  • Yes, we have seen several examples of sideways motion also in our lab-based dance studies. Usually, though, people end up having different metrical levels in the up/down versus sideways motion. Did you only move sideways?

  • Ah, interesting. So you did not change the direction of the pattern (the phase), only the tempo?

  • Ah, good that you mention this. A quick attempt at clarifying:

    A beat is the perception of a sonic "event". The sound of a kick drum is perceived as a beat. So is a piano tone, even though it also has a pitch.

    A pulse is the perception of successive beats. If you start a metronome, it will play clicks that you perceive as a series of beats with one...

  • Yes, I can understand the challenge of hearing properly. Hopefully, the captions and/or transcripts can help in making it more understandable?

  • Yes, the assignment can be challenging, particularly if you are not used to writing such texts. Still, it is a good way to structure your thoughts. Usually, the hardest part is getting started. But as they say, one word at a time!

  • Yes, adding a glossary per week is a good idea. We will think about that for a future run. For now, at least you can look up in the dictionary for the whole course:

  • Yes, that is a great example! Many people think about 4'33'' as a piece without anything happening. However, the performer actually moves quite a bit, and the "silence" of the piece turns it into a compelling exploration of ambient sound.

  • Yes, indeed. Folk music often has much more "soft" borders between performers and perceivers, and the two categories may often switch and/or merge. It is not only in classical music that you see a clear separation between performers and perceivers. In fact, most of the industry (including popular music) has cultivated a separation of roles over the last...