MusicLab Copenhagen: Absorption with The Danish String Quartet
Why do people get absorbed in musical experiences? RITMO has teamed up with the world-leading The Danish String Quartet for a unique research concert in the middle of Copenhagen.
Together with the Danish String Quartet, RITMO is the winner of P2 Prisen Happening of the Year from the Danish Radio for the event MusicLab Copenhagen.
Working with one of the world's best chamber ensembles, The Danish String Quartet (DSQ), a team of researchers from the University of Oslo, and several other European institutions hosted this "science concert" to understand how the mind and body are engaged in musicians and audience members in intense states of shared musical absorption.
The event combined music, science, and science communication in a novel format. The audience (local and online) experienced a high-quality concert while also being part of an experiment aimed at understanding more about the minds and bodies of expert musicians.
Hear more about the concept in the mini-documentary The Sound of Consciousness describing the artistic and scientific motivations for running this unique event.
The concert featured pieces a variety of pieces from the last centuries:
- Ludvig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Strygekvartet nr. 16 i F-dur, opus 135
- Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998): Strygekvartet nr. 3
- J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Contrapunctus
- Nordisk Folkemusik: Arr. Den Danske Strygekvartet
The concert was streamed live on YouTube. Below is a recording of the stream.
We measure heart-rate variability and breath synchronization between the four DSQ members and selected audience members to check for indicators of "a shared zone of musical absorption", which seem to characterize some of the greatest concerts. We also intend to measure the relation between absorption, attention and mind-wandering through pupillometry and micro-movements of the audience.
The researchers using their respective areas of expertise, ranging from phenomenology to musicology, music technology, and experimental psychology, will be able to work on important questions such as:
- What is the relation between musical absorption and empathy?
- Is there such a thing as a shared zone of absorption, and is it measurable?
- How can the logic of music be visualized?
These questions will be tested through various methods ranging from theoretical philosophy to qualitative interviews to quantitative physiological measures and music technology.
The science communication
The concert will be live-streamed, and you can even participate in some experiments from home.
The concert will also be transmitted on Danish Radio, P2 and made into a short film.
After the concert, there will be a "data jockeying" session where the researchers show how they analyze the data and explain some of the hidden experiments having taken place. It is also possible to just hang out in the bar and have a casual conversation with musicians and researchers.
The Philosophical Foundations
Read a feature story about the project, or listen to a podcast episode:
- English: Podcast episode from Regnfang
- English: The most accomplished musicians can play without thinking
- Norwegian: De dyktigste musikerne kan spille uten å tenke
- Danish / Norwegian: Simon Høffding - om musikk og filosofi (podcast episode from Solveigs Speisa Musikk)
- De får P2 Prisen i år (in Danish)
- The Strad about MusicLab 7: The Danish String Quartet (before the event)
- The Strad about Musiclab 7: The Danish String Quartet (after the concert)
- DR Puls - Musikkens virkekraft kortlægges (in Danish)
- Ballade om MusicLab - Copenhagen / The Danish String Quartet (in Norwegian)
- Klassiskmusikk.com om MusicLab - Copenhagen / The Danish String Quartet (in Norwegian)
- Intervju om MusicLab Copenhagen med Solveig Sørbø i Studio 2 (P2) (in Norwegian)
- MusicLab Copenhagen omtales i Musikklivet (NRK) (in Norwegian)
- Intervju med Simon Høffding hos 24syv