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Disputation: Irresistible Movement (Agata Zelechowska)

Agata Zelechowska will defend her dissertation Irresistible Movement: The Role of Musical Sound, Individual Differences and Listening Context in Movement Responses to Music.

Agata Zelechowska


People often spontaneously start moving when they listen to music. It feels natural to tap the fingers or nod the head to the beat - so natural, that sometimes it seems to be happening automatically. But is this behaviour indeed automatic? Are we able to decide whether to move or not to move? Or, in other words: do we move to music, or does music move us? The research presented in this dissertation shows that movement to music can be difficult to resist, even when we try. However, it depends on several factors, some of which make people more likely to move when they hear music. I aimed to study and systematise the impact of different characteristics of music, listener, and context of the music experience. Using motion capture technology, it was possible to measure body movement at a very small scale, sometimes unnoticeable to the human eye. Motion data from several experiments, accompanied by questionnaires, allowed for examining a large number of research questions and filling in the picture of why, how, and when music moves us. In sum, this research aids the understanding of how we perceive and interact with music. At the same time, it helps to build knowledge about human cognition at large, and illustrate the role that the body plays in shaping our relationship with the world around us.

Read the dissertation

Recording of trial lecture Recording of introduction

The project has been carried out as part of the project MICRO - Human Bodily Micromotion in Music Perception and Interaction at RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion.


  • 10:15-11:00: Trial lecture
  • 11:15-14:30 (approximately): Disputation
  • 15:00-16:00: Reception




Published Nov. 27, 2020 10:56 AM - Last modified Mar. 17, 2021 6:15 PM