Think Tanks



Zaal De Papegaai, De Krook, 13u30.

Luca Tiszai

 Individuals with profound and multiple disabilities are people with highly individual skill profile depending on the nature or extent of different coexisting disabilities a person has due to their significant differences in speech or communication, basic physical mobility, sensory awareness. According to the WHO classification (1992) the IQ score of these people is less than 20. In practice, while professionals still use IQ scores for diagnosis, there are debates on the validity of measured or labelled intellectual ability. Traditional or standardized assessments are not functional to measure the skills of these individuals. Embodied music cognition holds the potential to gain a deeper understanding of their cognitive functioning, namely attention memory and learning ability by the analysis of their music induced movements. Our experience is based on 10 years of receptive classical music group sessions based on the method of Klára Kokas, 5 years of video analysis and recently we could measure their attention with portable EEG. We established an active method as well named Consonante, based on the naturally evoking musical gestures of nonverbal individuals. The core of the method is to turn these natural movements to sound producing movments with the aim of custom built instruments and simplfied accompaniment called bagpipe bass.

Marc Leman - Modelling African drumming states

Generally, we assume that interaction with music can be approached from a dynamical systems perspective. In this talk I provide some preliminary results of a study on African drumming, in which the modelling is inspired by basic postulates from quantum mechanics. I briefly introduce an abstract formalism that was useful for describing music interaction states and how they evolve, and I show how this formalism can contribute to a clarification of our dynamical systems perspective. Although the work is preliminary, it is likely that the dynamical systems perspective may contribute to a better understanding of African drumming and similar homeostasis-based music interactions in general.

Dominik Phyfferoen - The Impact of the Intensity Factor in the Ritual Music-Dance of Dagbon - An Embodied Music Making Approach

We present some of the results on rhythmical  and melodic  analyses of ritual music-dance in Dagbon, a musical culture found in the Northern Region in contemporary Ghana. We  show  how, in the traditional idiom of music making “The Aferian Hemiola Style” and “The Intensity Factor” interacts during rituals. The presentation starts with defining key elements on embodied music interaction in Dagbon and proposes a theoretical framework on “The Intensity Factor”. Among key elements of embodied music interaction are: The intensity factor, the lyrical use of proverbs and how the associated narrative is enacted through the structural aspects of music related to tone, timbre, syncopated rhythms, dances and body movements, phraseology and speech rhythms. Embodiment music interaction is linked with the Aferian Hemiola Style, the Intensity Factor  and simultaneous multidimensionality also named superposition of rhythmical cycles. Superposition  of  rhythmical cycles combining  compound duple and simple triple  meters. Analyzes of polyrhythmic structures of Dagbon traditional idiom of music making shows that  superposition  of  rhythmical cycles - 2-beat and 3-beat grouping- musical interactions between the musicians, dancers and the audience. Some of these ritual music-dance  e.g. tindana waa has an “Aferian Hemiola”  in combination with a “movable one” in the architecture of the ritual music-dance.
Liminal transitional periods between two rhythmic stable periods occur in the audio-visual field recordings. We named the stable periods “homeostasis” and  transitional periods  the  “intensity factor”. These transitional periods of temporary unstable rhythmic transformational processes are periods that lie between two homeostasis periods, which are short but contain a lot of intensity/energy and thus the rhythm pushes the ritual.
Rhythmical layers, - played and performed by drumming, handclapping, singing melodic instruments-,   interacts and interlocks with each other during the rituals. Through the superposition of these rhythmical layers, complex and well-organized  polyrhythms arises. In occasions e.g. bamaaya, tindana waa, jera,  they form part of the architectural structure of the ritual music-dance. Through the interaction of “The Aferian Hemiola Style”  and energy emerges and contributes to the dynamics of music making. This energy we define as “The Intensity Factor” in the music-dance ritual ceremonies.  For this study we transcribed, annotated and analyzed field recordings of ritual music-dance with emphasis on  “the Aferian Hemiola Style” and how this rhythmic phenomenon interacts with the intensity factor during the  ritual ceremonies e.g. ziem, tindana waa.



Verga Laura - Shared timing: Effects of temporal coordination on learning

Learning is an essential part of everyone’s life, and —most often— it is social, too: Even adult learners frequently interact with a partner to achieve their learning goals. Such interactions require that the learner and the partner temporally coordinate their behavior to maximize learning efficiency; indeed, this temporal coordination may facilitate the focusing of the learner’s attention to specific events in time. Similar to social interaction, music facilitates synchronization and, to some extent, has been suggested to boost learning. The question then arises whether social interaction and music may improve learning based on shared timing mechanisms. We present the results of three studies exploring this hypothesis behaviorally and with fMRI. Our results support the hypothesis of increased temporal stability in participants’ learning behavior, in both musical and interactive settings. In particular, the finding that both social interaction and music engage similar mechanisms points toward the necessity to disentangle their effects when these two factors are present in the same setting (e.g. music therapy).

22/05/2017 - 11am

Jan Schacher - Sound and Gesture Performance: Blending Research and Artistic Practice

Music moves us, not just metaphorically, but also through the body. In this presentation I will cover research and artistic work that addresses the role of the body and perception in our engagement with the world as well as corporeal presence and perceptual capabilities of the musical performer.
The perspective taken does not only include theories of embodiment- and affect and the motor theory of perception, it also deals with experimental processes in the development and performance of (gestural electronic) music. The goal is to increase the understanding of the role of the body, motion, movement, and gesturality in the cultural activity of 'musicking', i.e. the creation, performance, and perception of music.
I attempt to throw a bridge between practice-based and artistic research, and research in systematic musicology and music psychology. This means bringing together systematic research methods in balance with artistic practice: quantitative work based on measuring and interpreting data, used for analysis, as interaction model, and reciprocally influencing each-other, and qualitative work based on auto-ethnography and grounded theory.
I will present elements of the interdisciplinary research project 'Motion Gesture Music' which I carried out in Zurich between 2014 to 2016, the PhD project 'Sound Presence' that I concluded in Antwerp this spring, and my current projects. This includes my own works for the stage, attempts at investigating canonical contemporary music repertoire, as well as other forms of movement performance, including contemporary dance and post-modern calligraphy.


12/05/2017 - 2pm

Jesku Buhmann: "Synchronization with music as a tool to manipulate cadence"

The use of rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) has received quite some interest in the fields of sports and gait rehabilitation. Especially moving in synchrony with music has positive effects on e.g. endurance. In order to spontaneously bring about synchronization or phase locking, the tempo in RAS needs to match closely the tempo of the human movement (e.g. cadence), and even if the musical tempo initially matches the movement tempo, only approximately half of the tested subjects will maintain synchronization. Nowadays, however, there are techniques where RAS continuously synchronizes with the human movement. These music-to-movement alignment techniques can also be used in such a way that RAS slightly deviates from the human movement, in order that it guides the movement tempo or speed towards a certain goal. I will present some of these techniques that manipulate human movement and discuss how kinematic parameters and motivation are affected. In addition, I will discuss gender differences that were observed in several studies.  

Pieter-Jan Maes: “Synchronization as a key to studying complexity in social music interaction”

Abstract: Social musical interaction relies on the joint coordination of gestural and sound patterns. Interaction is dynamical (as patterns arise, evolve, break down and re-occur over time) and synergistic (as novel states at the level of the global musical outcome emerge from the nonlinear interaction dynamics of coupled components at the local level). These aspects are fundamental to music-based participatory sense-making, experience, and creativity but pose considerable challenges to the analysis of social musical interaction. Based on a dynamical systems approach, I will argue that joint synchronization may capture the global dynamics of social musical interaction processes. From there, we could go to a better understanding of subjective musical experiences, and of contributions of components at the local level (e.g., internal models, expressive gestures, acoustics, etc.). I will present some analysis methods that could be useful to implement this approach. Further, I will present some experiments implementing these methods, that will be initiated shortly.

Leon Van Noorden: "Similarity of synchronised musical and movement gestures"

We often talk about the fact that people synchronise there movements to music. Most of the time we measure this by the fact that they temporally align one particular phase moment out of their movement limit cycle with one particular phase moment out of the repetitive musical pattern, most often the beat. My question is whether people can do more than that, i.e. align more phase moments of their repetitive movements with particular moments in the repetitive musical pattern. My guess is that this depends on the tempo of the music and that they can only reach a stronger similarity when they perform the same programme as the musician they listen to. Hopefully we can brainstorm about experiments to investigate this issue.


31/03/2017 - 2pm

Leon van Noorden - Synchronisation
In systematic musicology studying coupled systems is an important subject. In playing music together the performers have to be coupled in order to stay in time through auditory or visual cues. In listening to music we have shown that listeners tend to move in synchrony with the performer. Music can be used to make people move together. Etc, etc. Synchronisation is an important analytical tool to study the mutual interaction of coupled systems, although coupled systems influence each other also when they do not synchronise. But we turn often to the study of synchronisation because the repetitive character of it can easily be observed. The study of interacting systems can be enlarged by distinguishing different degrees of synchronisation, such a phase and frequency synchronisation and intermittent synchronisation, which can be subdivided again in rapid and slow intermittency.
The structure of this think tank is as follows:
First we will look at a number of papers about synchronisation that are relevant for our work. Pieter-Jan Maes and Jeska Buhman are proposing some papers in addition to mine (see here:
Then we will introduce some ongoing synchronisation projects and finally we will discuss what kind of related studies could be interesting for IPEM.
Probably this is all to much for a single think tank session. A second session could be foreseen for the discussion of the way ahead. This is the more interesting option because we could than also use what we will have learned at the IPEM specialist course on Analysing coordination of human behaviour: a dynamical system’s approach. 
I also would like to present some results on the coupling between heartbeat and respiration while relaxing with music, as in the figure below from our research in Colombia.

02/12/2016 - 2pm

Godfried-Willem Raes - Robots always get better, people don't.

Godfried-Willem Raes is the director of the now highly endangered Logos Foundation, an institute where artistic and technological research converge with experimental musics. In this lecture he will present an overview of his research activity, including both failures and achievements. The driving forces behind his commitment to contribute to the development of new tools for musical expression will be revealed. Two main areas will be covered: the search for tools to capture and classify human expressive gesture at the one hand, and the realisation of a very large collection of musical robots, making up the Logos robot orchestra. Godfried-Willem Raes studied musicology and philosophy at the Ghent State University as well as piano, clarinet, percussion and composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Gent. He has also published a great number of critical essays and articles in specialized publications. In 1982 he received the Louis Paul Boon Award for the social engagement in his artistic work. In 1988 he became a professor of music composition at the Ghent Royal Conservatory. In 1997 he also became a professor at the Orpheus Higher Institute for Music, a commitment he held, up to 2009. In 1990 he designed and constructed a tetrahedron-shaped concert-hall for the Logos Foundation in Ghent, a project for which it received the Tech-Art prize 1990. Next to his reputation as a composer, he is also a well known expert in computer technology, robotics and interactive electronic art. He holds a doctors degree from Ghent State University on the basis of his dissertation on the technology of virtual instruments of his design and invention. He is the author of an extensive real time algorithmic music composition programming language: <GMT> running on the Wintel platform. He was a full time research and composition professor at the Ghent University Association, School of Arts, until his retirement in 2014, but he is still active in the research group of systematic musicology at the Ghent University. He is currently also an Associate Researcher at the Orpheus Research Centre in Music. (OrCIM).

Françoise Vanhecke - Inhaling Singing, a new extended vocal technique

This work aims at a better understanding of ‘Extended Vocal Techniques (EVT)’ in a general context and Inhaling Singing (IST) in particular. Within the broad field of EVT Inhaling (IST), as a new artistic art form, is the core of this work.
In the world of vocal practice new developments and expansions are continuous challenges. In a very broad context, art can be considered as a dynamic process whereby expanding frontiers and exploration of new forms of artistic expression are key factors to achieve these challenging goals. Throughout this research it has been become clear that, besides the exploration of the artistic potential of IST, there was a need to gain scientific insight and knowledge in order to describe this novel vocal technique and to open perspectives for further research in the field. A notation system was developed in order to enable composers to integrate IST in new compositions.
The outcome of this empirical research forms a solid base in order to develop specific pedagogical methods in combination with artistic realizations.


18/11/2016 - 2pm

Prof. dr. Johan Wagemans, On the balance between order and complexity in aesthetics

Even in the early days, before Fechner started experimental psychoaesthetics, ideas about beauty emphasized perfection (e.g., right proportions, harmonious arrangement of parts) but also contained elements of imperfection. For Leibniz, for instance, perfection was harmony or unity within variety. In the 20th century, a lot of experimental work was aimed at testing specific quantitative expressions of this notion of balance between order and complexity, with Birkhoff (1932) proposing a divisive relationship (O : C) and Eysenck (1942) proposing a multiplicative relationship (O x C). In this talk, I will not try to settle on one expression or the other. Instead, I will sketch its broad appeal and usefulness in capturing key factors determining aesthetic appeal and preferences. These factors will be related to general characteristics of information processing in the brain. Specifically, I will try to embed the empirical work on visual pleasure in the framework of predictive coding and its fundamental principles of the brain as a complex system that is continuously generating and testing predictions. In order to explain this view, I will rely on some examples of interesting visual art works (both classic and contemporary) as well as some fascinating visual phenomena that attract wide interest (e.g., on the internet).

 10/11/2016 - 1.30pm

drs. Alessandro Dell'Anna, Interpersonal entrainment in joint tapping with TMS

Up to which point is music an intersubjective phenomenon? Applying some insight of the enactive approach to social cognition, and collecting data and methods from entrainment studies and social neuroscience, I set up an experiment to compare musicians and non musicians in a simple joint tapping task, in order to explore the influence of a partner in a proto-musical action. Negative mean asynchrony and cortico-spinal activation will be measured (by means of TMS) to see if and how they are modulated by the presence and by the position of the partner (be it egocentric or allocentric).

drs. Tim Duerinck, Music instruments from new materials and their scientific evaluation In his presentation

Tim Duerinck will present his PhD research and we will think about suiting research methods. He will give a short introduction about the different stages of his research: choosing suitable materials, the making of prototypes and how he will analyse them in co-operation with Material Sciences (Ugent). However, the analysis of a music instrument is incomplete without incorporating musicians and/or public. How do we conduct scientific research on music instruments when a double-blind methode is not possible? Tim introduces some suggestions, which will be discussed about in a brainstorm. Together, we will look for a suitable method for analysing music instruments with musicians and/or public.


Lukas Pairon, SIMM and the Social Impact of Making Music
The Ghent-based international research platform SIMM involves a partnership between four different departments of the University (UGent) and University College (HoGent) of Ghent (Belgium), in an international collaboration with universities from Europe and far beyond.
The initiative has come out of the Conflict Research Group(CRG, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, UGent), and the platform is also welcoming three other departments/research groups: CCVS (Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, UGent), Department of Social Work (HoGent) and the School of Arts (HoGent).
Research of SIMM will address the social impact of learning and playing music, as studied from the perspective of participants in different types of social-artistic programmes. Qualitative case studies and long-term ethnographical research will be given priority, so that in time, we will arrive at a better understanding of the possible influence that playing music has upon individuals who are striving to improve their social circumstances. In this, SIMM has an emphatic ambition though: not to justify music as art, or to validate it from the point of view of its potential social usefulness.


Prof. Dr. Ir. Leon Van Noorden, Recent statistical analyses applied to synchronisation data of young children tapping to songs in little groups

Dr. Pieter-Jan Maes, Update of experiment on auditory-motor synchronization + thoughts about analyses and social music

Federica BressanMarie Curie meets IPEM: An overview of the upcoming project on installation art


Dr. Micheline Lesaffre, Dr. Frank Desmet, & Matthieu Ghilain, Music and Movement Synchronization in people with dementia

Micheline will present results from a study on synchronization in cooperation with the group of cognitive neuroscience (Lille University) at the University Hospital in Reims (2015). This study examined synchronization (1) in the presence of a musical beat versus a familiar song of the same tempo (84bpm), (2) under auditory, visual and audiovisual conditions, and (3) in live versus recording conditions.
Frank will talk about the Matlab toolbox he developed for analysis of this data.
Matthieu will present the setup and goals of a new study we are going to do in May in Kluisbergen. This is an adapted/improved version based on the results of the study in Reims.


Allessandro Dell'Anna, Interpersonal entrainment. Insights into the intersubjective basis of musicality

Adaptive timing is one of the basic skills a musician is required to have in a musical ensemble (Philip-Silver & Keller 2012). Although it might appear to be a very simple task, joint finger tapping may offer some insight into this ability. Moreover, it might suggest a mean by which sensorimotor synchronization (and then rhythm) enhance relationships among humans (Hove & Risen 2009). After reviewing some of the experiments done in the last decade (Repp & Su 2013), I will briefly present an outline of a possible joint finger tapping experiment that could further clarify the issue of the intersubjective basis of musicality.


Jan Stupacher, Sensorimotor interactions in music perception

When we 'tune in' to a musical pulse and move our body in time with the beat we are rhythmically entrained. In my dissertation project at the Department of Psychology in Graz, Austria, I want to construct a comprehensive cognitive framework of entrainment that takes into account acoustic, neural, and social aspects of sensorimotor synchronization. The research goal is to link temporal aspects and spatial patterns of neural activations to direct measures of sensorimotor synchronization (e.g., finger tapping), audio features, and interpersonal affiliation.


Esther Coorevits, The role of gesture in coordinated interpersonal timing

Apart from their obvious role in sound production, musicians may use body movements in joint performances to temporally coordinate their actions. Accordingly, we hypothesize that observing a musician’s body movements may facilitate prediction and anticipation of when tone onsets are about to occur, leading to improved interpersonal timing synchronization. To test this hypothesis, we will instruct duos of musicians to tap out a melody at a specific target tempo, while manipulating finger and arm movement constraints (`Performing style’)


Dr. Maarten Grachten, A brief introduction to deep learning, and some musical applications

The area of machine learning, in which a computer is taught to perform a task by example, has witnessed nothing short of a revolution the past few years, with the revival of artificial neural networks. This new learning paradigm, often referred to as "deep learning", has led to unprecedented results in a variety of domains. In this talk I will briefly explain what deep learning is, and showcase some music-related applications of it that have been developed in the context of the EU-funded research project "Learning to Create", such as automatic recognition of composers by their musical style, and expressive music performance.