Food & Paper: When listeners breathe with the music (Upham)

Postdoctoral Fellow Finn Upham from McGill University will give a talk on "When listeners breathe with the music".

Image may contain: Glasses, Hair, Eyewear, Face, Glasses.


Psychophysiology research has made claims about how we breathe while listening to music, but what about when? Analysis of respiration phase over repeated exposures and across audiences has identified distinct patterns of music-coordinated inspirations and expirations. Without conscious awareness, participants appear to adjust the timing of breaths in relation to those of the musicians, to repeating thematic materials, to moments of particular poignancy, and to instances of uncertainty. However, these alignment trends are subtle and idiosyncratic, suggesting the stimulus effects are conditional on factors specific to the listener and the listening. This talk will share examples of the measured respiratory phase alignment and discuss the hypothesized mechanisms for this curious behaviour.


Finn Upham is a postdoc in Music Technology at McGill University, working with musicologist Julie Cumming. During their masters at McGill with Stephen McAdams and doctorate at New York University with Mary Farbood, they studied listeners’ continuous responses to music and developed Activity Analysis to evaluate temporal consistencies. This tool exposed the respiratory phase alignment to heard music, the topic of their dissertation. Finn’s current research projects include auditory streaming in renaissance polyphony, the interactions of audio technology and music cognition, and a perceptual definition of music. They also produce So Strangely, a podcast on recent research in Music Science.

Published Jan. 20, 2020 3:00 PM - Last modified Apr. 20, 2020 3:34 PM