Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Music Regulators in Two String Quartets: A Comparison of Communicative Behaviors between Low- and High-Stress Performance Conditions

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posted on 2022-12-19, 17:10 authored by Michele Biasutti, Eleonora Concina, David Wasley

 In ensemble performances, group members use particular bodily behaviors as a sort of “language” to supplement the lack of verbal communication. This article focuses on music regulators, which are defined as signs to other group members for coordinating performance. The following two music regulators are considered: body gestures for articulating attacks (a set of movements externally directed that are used to signal entrances in performance) and eye contact. These regulators are recurring observable behaviors that play an important role in non-verbal communication among ensemble members. To understand how they are used by chamber musicians, video recordings of two string quartet performances (Quartet A performing Bartók and Quartet B performing Haydn) were analyzed under two conditions: a low stress performance (LSP), undertaken in a rehearsal setting, and a high stress performance (HSP) during a public recital. The results provide evidence for more emphasis in gestures for articulating attacks (i.e., the perceived strength of a performed attack-type body gesture) during HSP than LSP. Conversely, no significant differences were found for the frequency of eye contact between HSP and LSP. Moreover, there was variability in eye contact during HSP and LSP, showing that these behaviors are less standardized and may change according to idiosyncratic performance conditions. Educational implications are discussed for improving interpersonal communication skills during ensemble performance. 


Published in

Frontiers in Psychology


Frontiers Media


  • VoR (Version of Record)


"Biasutti, M., Concina, E., Wasley, D. and Williamon, A. (2016) 'Music regulators in two string quartets: A comparison of communicative behaviors between low- and high-stress performance conditions. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, pp.1229. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01229"

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

David Wasley

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing in Demanding Environments

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


  • en

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