When people perform a task as part of a joint action, their behavior is not the same as it would be if they were performing the same task alone, since it has to be adapted to facilitate shared understanding (or sometimes to prevent it). Joint performance of music offers a test bed for ecologically valid investigations of the way non-verbal behavior facilitates joint action. Here we compare the expressive movement of violinists when playing in solo and ensemble conditions. The first violinists of two string quartets (SQs), professional and student, were asked to play the same musical fragments in a solo condition and with the quartet. Synchronized multimodal recordings were created from the performances, using a specially developed software platform. Different patterns of head movement were observed. By quantifying them using an appropriate measure of entropy, we showed that head movements are more predictable in the quartet scenario. Rater evaluations showed that the change does not, as might be assumed, entail markedly reduced expression. They showed some ability to discriminate between solo and ensemble performances, but did not distinguish them in terms of emotional content or expressiveness. The data raise provocative questions about joint action in realistically complex scenarios.
Glowinski, D., Mancini, M., Cowie, R., Camurri, A., Chiorri, C., & Doherty, C. (2013). The movements made by performers in a skilled quartet: a distinctive pattern, and the function that it serves. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 841. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00841