Alignment strategies for the entrainment of music and movement rhythms

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Mar;1337:86-93. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12647.


Theories of entrainment assume that spontaneous entrainment emerges from dynamic laws that operate via mediators on interactions, whereby entrainment is facilitated if certain conditions are fulfilled. In this study, we show that mediators can be built that affect the entrainment of human locomotion to music. More specifically, we built D-Jogger, a music player that functions as a mediator between music and locomotion rhythms. The D-Jogger makes it possible to manipulate the timing differences between salient moments of the rhythms (beats and footfalls) through the manipulation of the musical period and phase, which affect the condition in which entrainment functions. We conducted several experiments to explore different strategies for manipulating the entrainment of locomotion and music. The results of these experiments showed that spontaneous entrainment can be manipulated, thereby suggesting different strategies on how to embark. The findings furthermore suggest a distinction among different modalities of entrainment: finding the beat (the most difficult part of entrainment), keeping the beat (easier, as a temporal scheme has been established), and being in phase (no entrainment is needed because the music is always adapted to the human rhythm). This study points to a new avenue of research on entrainment and opens new perspectives for the neuroscience of music.

Keywords: D-Jogger; entrainment; music; synchronization; walking.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Auditory Perception
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Movement*
  • Music*
  • Neurosciences
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological*
  • Running
  • User-Computer Interface