Laurel Trainor is the Director of McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, which has a LIVElab concert hall for 100 people that allows her to do a lot of studies in the relationship between musical performance and how it’s received by an audience. She’s been using a number of different immersive technologies including motion tracking to track how body sway is a form of bi-directional, non-verbal communication that happens between musicians. She’s also been able to study synchrony, and the impact of movement in the audience and how audience members communicate with each other. She’s also able to do some pretty sophisticated spatialized audio within the LIVElab, and to recreate the sound of live performances, which allows her to research the role of live embodiment when listening to music.
I had a chance to catch up with Trainor at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Future of Neuroscience & VR Workshop in New York City. We talked about the role of body sway and non-verbal communication in playing music, the importance of synchrony in group dynamics, and how deficits in perceiving time and rhythm could be a factor in a number of different major developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, dylsexia, and developmental coordination disorder.
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