I am notorious for bouncing my foot up and down, or tapping my toes to music. (actually as I type this out I am doing so to Kongos – Take It From Me ) It’s hard to resist, especially when you know and love the tune!
Some researchers at University of Oslo state that when we listen to music we tend to mentally simulate the body movements we believe have gone into producing the sound. They dived into the relationship between musical sound and body movement.
Their research suggests that in order to perceive something, we must actively simulate the motion associated with the sensory impressions we are trying to process.
A professor Rolf Godøy (leading the study) said
‘Music-related motion leaves a trace in our minds and could be thought of as a kind of shape representation.
‘Images of sound-producing motion are actively re-created in listening, hence the idea that motor theory could be the basis for the similarities between sound and body movement when we experience music.’
So they carried onto testing the theory, they asked participates to trace the sounds in the air. The results were very similar. Many of the gestures, particularly between the vertical positioning of their hands and the pitch of the sound.
Some sound features were more strongly related to movement like rhythm and texture.
This suggests why people tend to tap their feet along with music, as if re-creating the rhythm.
Body markers were used to track how participants who played musical instruments moved compared to those who danced along to the music they produced.
It showed that dancers produced movements that broadly mimicked those of the musicians.
Dancers mimicked the hand movements of someone playing a samba on a drum.
Explaining why we may tap our toes to music with a good beat – our feet are tapping out the baseline of the drum.
Toe tappers unite! 😛