Effect of temporal separation on synchronization in rhythmic performance

Michael Gurevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A variety of short time delays inserted between pairs of subjects were found to affect their ability to synchronize a musical task. The subjects performed a clapping rhythm together from separate sound-isolated rooms via headphones and without visual contact. One-way time delays between pairs were manipulated electronically in the range of 3 to 78 ms. We are interested in quantifying the envelope of time delay within which two individuals produce synchronous per- formances. The results indicate that there are distinct regimes of mutually coupled behavior, and that `natural time delay'o¨delay within the narrow range associated with travel times across spatial arrangements of groups and ensembleso¨supports the most stable performance. Conditions outside of this envelope, with time delays both below and above it, create characteristic interaction dynamics in the mutually coupled actions of the duo. Trials at extremely short delays (corresponding to unnaturally close proximity) had a tendency to accelerate from anticipation. Synchronization lagged at longer delays (larger than usual physical distances) and produced an increasingly severe deceleration and then deterioration of performed rhythms. The study has implications for music collaboration over the Internet and suggests that stable rhythmic performance can be achieved by `wired ensembles' across distances of thousands of kilometers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-992
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sensory Systems
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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