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Front Psychol. 2014 Jun 23;5:645. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00645. eCollection 2014.

Synchronization and leadership in string quartet performance: a case study of auditory and visual cues.

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Department of Music, University of Sheffield Sheffield, UK.
Institute for Information-Oriented Control, Technische Universität München Munich, Germany ; School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK.
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK ; Royal Academy of Music, University of London London, UK.
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK.


Temporal coordination between members of a string quartet was investigated across repeated performances of an excerpt of Haydn's string quartet in G Major, Op. 77 No. 1. Cross-correlations between interbeat intervals of performances at different lags showed a unidirectional dependence of Viola on Violin I, and of Violin I on Cello. Bidirectional dependence was observed for the relationships between Violin II and Cello and Violin II and Viola. Own-reported dependencies after the performances reflected these measured dependencies more closely than dependencies of players reported by the other players, which instead showed more typical leader-follower patterns in which Violin I leads. On the other hand, primary leadership from Violin I was observed in an analysis of the bow speed characteristics preceding the first tone onset. The anticipatory movement of Violin I set the tempo of the excerpt. Taken together the results show a more complex and differentiated pattern of dependencies than expected from a traditional role division of leadership suggesting several avenues for further research.


cues; ensemble performance; leadership; motion; movement; synchronization; tempo; timing

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