It Makes You Feel Like Dancing!

If you’ve ever started to sway or tap your foot when you hear certain musical selections, you’re in good company. Rhythmic drum patterns with a balance of rhythmic predictability and complexity seem to influence our desire to, according to researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK and  and Aarhus University in Denmark. The study, published April 16th 2014 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, found that many people find themselves unable to resist moving their bodies to the thumping beat of hip-hop, electronic, or funk music, which is a blend of soul music, jazz, and R&B.

On the other hand, the researchers found that people may feel less desire to dance when listening to a highly syncopated type of music such as free jazz. Syncopation involves a variety of rhythms that are unexpected. The team used a web-based survey to investigate the relationship between rhythmic complexity and self-ratings of wanting to move and pleasure. Over 60 participants from all over the world listened to funk drum-breaks with varying degrees of syncopation. Participants then rated the extent to which the rhythms made them want to move. The volunteers also how much pleasure they experienced.

Based on the results, the authors suggest that listening to rhythmic drum patterns with a medium degree of syncopation elicited a greater desire to move and the most pleasure, particularly for participants who enjoyed dancing to music regardless of the rhythm. The researchers suggest that listeners enjoy a balance between rhythmic predictability and complexity in music.

A release from the publisher quotes author Maria Witek as saying "In this relatively small population, we found that medium syncopation in groove invites the most pleasure and wanting to move. Our findings help us understand how certain musical rhythms can stimulate desire for spontaneous body-movement."

Here’s a link to the journal article, as requested by the release:

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