Introducing the Solo Response Project

Music effects human listeners. It can make us dance, cry, relax, and remember times past. We like making music and hearing it, working hard to play it well and earning money to buy concert tickets, albums, and audio equipment. We like sharing it with others, for collective pleasure and understanding, and to declare our cultural and individual identities. We also like listening to it privately, exploring our feelings or pushing them to a new state. ┬áDespite all that we know of music’s role and effect in modern life, it is very difficulty to understand how music works and what gives it this power. What is in these streams of sound that gives us a rush, or makes us sigh?

The Solo Response Project is a music cognition research project to explore these issues through a particularly tight experimental lens. Some of what we know of musics effects come from direct experimental study: putting sensors on peoples bodies, playing them music, and looking at the numbers to see what has changed. The Solo Response Project uses these same measurement techniques, but with some key distinctions: the responses of one person (me!) were recorded again and again (24 sessions), the musical stimuli were selected to cover a very wide range of styles and genres (25 pieces), the analyses of the measured responses are tailored to explore moments in time (Activity Analysis!), and the subjective experience of the listener is enhanced with post-listening notes and all that I can remember from the experience.

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This blog is my repository of analyses of these data. Most of the posts will focus on individual stimuli (all 25), looking at patterns of responses which recurred in the subjective and physiological measurements. Some posts will share results pertaining to theories of music cognition and specific measurement techniques by combining results from the different pieces. Other posts will point to where the data and code used for these analyses can be picked up by others who are curious to look at these results direction.

Thanks for checking out this record of my research. Any questions can be added as comments or sent to me directly: finn (at) nyu (dot) edu