Music is known to be capable of reducing perceived exertion during strenuous physical activity. The current interpretation of this modulating effect of music is that music may be perceived as a diversion from unpleasant proprioceptive sensations that go along with exhaustion. Here we investigated the effects of music on perceived exertion during a physically strenuous task, varying musical agency, a task that relies on the experience of body proprioception, rather than simply diverting from it. For this we measured psychologically indicated exertion during physical workout with and without musical agency while simultaneously acquiring metabolic values with spirometry. Results showed that musical agency significantly decreased perceived exertion during workout, indicating that musical agency may actually facilitate physically strenuous activities. This indicates that the positive effect of music on perceived exertion cannot always be explained by an effect of diversion from proprioceptive feedback. Furthermore, this finding suggests that the down-modulating effect of musical agency on perceived exertion may be a previously unacknowledged driving force for the development of music in humans: making music makes strenuous physical activities less exhausting.
Keywords: aesthetics; civilization; emotional motor control; jymmin'; sport.