What makes music groove? In this project, we are attempting to understand what aspects of musical rhythm contribute to the sense of groove we get from certain kinds of music (such as jazz, latin, funk, salsa, swing, afro-cuban, etc.). We are addressing this question by examining what expert performers do when they produce grooves.
In the music cognition literature, there has been a great deal of research on the expressive timing of music performance. Much of this research has focused on the performance on Western (European) classical music, usually performed on the piano. While this research is very interesting and informative in its own right, the rhythmic nature of Western classical music is different from "groove" musics, such as those that arise from African traditions. In Western classical music, the tempo (e.g. pulse or beat) can fluctuate; the musical term for the ebb and flow of tempo is rubato. In fact, there is a whole line of research on the final ritard (e.g. slowing) that occurs in performances of one piano piece, Robert Schumann's Träumerei. In contrast, groove music is characterized by a stricter sense of tempo. The underlying pulse of groove music does not change as dramatically as classical music performed with rubato. In fact, one of the functions of groove music is the regularity of the beat, as groove musics are generally dance musics.
We collect data via MIDI using Handsonic electronic drums, recording from one or two drummers at a time.