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This paper investigates the phenomenon of entrainment between independent groups of musicians in the context of Afro-Brazilian Congado performance. Based on audiovisual recordings made during a festival in May 2006, we present analyses of four different occasions during which two different groups play different music in close proximity to each other. The results indicate the occurrence of (a) entrainment in phase, (b) entrainment out of phase, and (c) no entrainment. These results are discussed in the particular ethnographic context, as well as with reference to existing literature on entrainment and interpersonal coordination.
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Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Inter-group entrainment in Afro-Brazilian Congado ritual
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Durham University
Durham University
ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the phenomenon of entrainment between
independent groups of musicians in the context of Afro-Brazilian Congado performance.
Based on audiovisual recordings made during a festival in May 2006, we present
analyses of four different occasions during which two different groups play different
music in close proximity to each other. The results indicate the occurrence of (a)
entrainment in phase, (b) entrainment out of phase, and (c) no entrainment. These results
are discussed in the particular ethnographic context, as well as with reference to existing
literature on entrainment and interpersonal coordination.
Submitted 2010 November 26; accepted 2011 March 25.
KEYWORDS: entrainment, Congado, ethnography, Afro-Brazilian music, Brazil.
A number of studies over the last fifteen years or so have begun to explore the significance of entrainment
the process by which independent but coupled rhythmical systems assume the same or related periods
for the perception and performance of music. One approach, which developed from Jones’s dynamical
attending theory (Jones & Boltz 1989), sees the perception of metre as founded on the entrainment of the
listener’s attentional rhythms to musical stimuli: this process has been modelled by Large and others and
forms an important part of London’s theory of metre (Eck, 2002; Large, 2000; Large & Jones, 1999; Large
& Kolen, 1994; London, 2004). Clayton et al. discussed further applications of this idea in music research,
and in ethnomusicology in particular (2005), and Clayton (2007) explored unintentional entrainment in a
performance of Indian classical music. However, to date, entrainment studies drawing on data from actual
musical performances unmediated by metronomes, click-tracks or other experimental interventions
remain extremely rare (see however Doffman, 2008).
The present study explores entrainment in a context which has not been considered previously;
that is, entrainment between independent groups of musicians. The groups in question are all participants
in a form of Afro-Brazilian ritual performance known as Congado a religious tradition widespread in the
state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. There are different types of groups e.g. Congo, Moçambique, and
Candombe each one having its own functions and associated with distinct uniforms, ritual objects, and
musical instruments, and performing its own rhythms, dances, and songs throughout the whole ceremony
(a Congo group is pictured in Figure 1). Each group typically comprises a lead singer, three drummers,
three to six other percussionists, and up to 40 dancers who process either in two parallel lines (in Congo) or
in a more compact formation (in Moçambique). Each group plays its own part in a larger ritual, and in this
sense the groups cooperate in achieving the ritual’s aims. At the same time, however, each has its own
identity linked to a home area or community and displayed through uniforms and banners and it is also
important for ritual purposes that the separate identity of each group is not compromised, especially when
groups belonging to different communities come to perform at the same event. Extensive ethnographic
research by Lucas (2002a, 2002b, 2005) has demonstrated that for participants the maintenance of
boundaries between the different groups depends on sustaining a rhythmic difference. Since participants
feel a tendency towards synchronization with other groups, resisting it becomes a demonstration of the
group’s spiritual power, which is expressed by its musical cohesion and competence. An important musical
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and ritual consideration for the groups is, therefore, the imperative to resist entrainment whenever groups
belonging to different communities meet during the ritual.
Figure 1. The Congo group belonging to the Arturos community preparing to play in the centre of the
town of Contagem, Minas Gerais, 13th May 2006.
Each community promotes a yearly Congado festival in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. For
between three and seven days devotees sing, play and dance in worship of Our Lady, other saints and their
ancestors. Some brotherhoods also perform a shorter festival in May, lasting two days, to celebrate the end
of slavery. Given that the groups spend several hours processing around a host community or town,
frequently passing within earshot of each other, and that in some circumstances groups which meet on a
road or path are expected to face each other and perform a ritual of mutual greeting; and given that the
groups are frequently playing similar rhythms at similar tempi when they do so, we hypothesize that
resisting entrainment is in practice rather difficult, and that on occasion unintentional entrainment is likely
to occur. The participants’ discourse, and the fact that groups often appear to avoid situations in which they
would have to perform greetings, both offer support to this idea. The present paper, which is based on
audiovisual recordings made at a Congado festival in the town of Contagem, Brazil in May 2006, analyses
four occasions on which groups played in close proximity to one another, including one formal greeting, to
see whether or not the groups mutually entrain. Two of the events involve groups from the same
community; the other two occasions involve groups from different communities.
The analyses presented below take into account extant literature on entrainment as well as
ethnographic research conducted with the participants. Rather than a series of controlled experiments
intended to test specific hypotheses, the analyses explore the real-life data with both entrainment theory
and ethnography in mind, in search of interpretations consistent with both perspectives. We have also
brought these two approaches together where possible: for instance, both by asking the participants about
phenomena we identified through the entrainment analyses, and by bringing detailed knowledge of the
ritual and its musical repertoire to bear in the process of analysis (especially in Extract 4). Looking at the
data from the perspective of entrainment theory we set out to characterise two groups as independent
rhythmic systems (i.e. identifying the rhythmic patterns and their tempi) and the means by which these
systems might have become coupled (principally, when auditory and/or visual information about one
group’s rhythm was available to the other). We would expect an interaction between the proximity of the
two tempi and the coupling strength: the closer the two groups are in tempo, the weaker the coupling force
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necessary for the two groups to synchronise. In terms of how the coupling occurs, in a musical context
auditory information is of course important. However, a number of studies have pointed to the role of
visual information in unintentional interpersonal coupling (Richardson et al., 2005; Richardson et al., 2007;
Schmidt & O’Brien, 1997) and we have therefore also considered the likelihood that visual contact may
have contributed to the instances of entrainment identified below.
The Congado festival where the recordings were made in May 2006 was promoted by the Black
Community of Arturos, a family group named after its founder Arthur Camilo Silvério who was born
around the end of slavery in Brazil, in the last quarter of the 19th century. Arthur and his wife Carmelinda
raised their children according to cultural values and knowledge inherited from his African ancestors,
including the faith in Our Lady of the Rosary and the importance of his family’s union and solidarity.
Today there are around five hundred descendents, and approximately three hundred of them share a piece
of land that Arthur had inherited from his father. There the group preserves and recreates several traditions
linked to Brazilian black culture. The ceremonies of the Reign of Our Lady of the Rosary, widely known as
Congado, are the most important such. Congado is the expression of their faith. Some of Arthur’s sons and
daughters are still living: they are the family’s leaders and occupy the most important positions in the
spiritual hierarchy.
During the rituals, the social structure of a Congado community includes the establishment of a
royal court and of performative groups that conduct the rituals and protect the royalty. Kings and queens
represent the honoured saints and African ancestral leaders. Arturos have three different kinds of group: a
Congo, a Moçambique and a Candombe. These groups perform specific and complementary functions,
which are established according to the hierarchical organization determined by a founding myth (Lucas,
2002a). Congo and Moçambique perform in the street and other public places. They are formed of
Captains, who are spiritual leaders who normally conduct the singing, and of vassals, who include the
dancers and players. Candombe is an indoor ritual that is performed by the leaders of the community and is
restricted to community members. It is regarded as the foundation of the other groups and it is performed
with vertical hand drums (played while standing) and shakers. The drums are said to allow the interaction
between devotees and their ancestors, and are therefore sacred. Congo and Moçambique players carry
cylindrical drums that are played with sticks and are said to represent Candombe's sacred drums.
Moçambique represents Candombe in the public spaces and their rhythmic characteristics echo
Candombe’s rhythm. The group performs their ritual acts with two rhythmic patterns, which are normally
played in moderate or slow tempo because Moçambique guides and conducts the royalty that follows them
in processions (Figure 2).
Moçambique Rhythms
Serra Acima
Serra Abaixo
Basic Pattern
Typical variations
Basic Pattern
Typical variations
Figure 2. Approximate transcription of Moçambique’s rhythmic patterns. The white note heads represent
weaker strokes made by the non-dominant hand, which rests on the drum.
Congo leads the processions, cleaning the way of evil energies and protecting Moçambique and
the royalty behind. This function is accomplished by playing and dancing to fast rhythms that are
submitted to frequent variations, which create a protective shield of sound and movement. The group plays
four rhythmic patterns that provide them with a wide range of tempo possibilities. The most used are the
slowest (Marcha Grave) and the fastest (Dobrado) ones (Figure 3).
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Congo Rhythms
Marcha Grave
Basic Pattern
Typical variations
Basic Pattern
Typical variations
Drum 1
Marcha Repicada
Dobrado Compassado
Figure 3. Approximate transcription of Congo’s main rhythmic patterns. The white notes represent weaker
strokes made by the non-dominant hand, which rests on the drum.
Among the celebrations commemorating the end of slavery, Arturos May Festival is the most
important one in Minas Gerais. It lasts two days. Saturday rites are restricted to Arturos’ Congo and
Moçambique and are carried out after sunset. These groups, either together or separately, raise several
poles with flags picturing their patron saints in strategic places both within the community space and
also in important sites in the neighbourhood, such as the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in the town of
Sunday starts with a celebration for the ancestors at dawn, conducted solely by Moçambique. The
group processes along the streets towards the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and returns to the
community. After breakfast both groups get dressed in their uniforms and go back to the Church to take
part in a ‘Congo Mass’ conducted by the local priest, including both groups’ music. There they meet many
other invited Congado groups from other communities in Minas Gerais, who also watch the Mass. When
the celebration finishes, all these groups from around fifteen up to twenty in total process back to the
community while dancing and playing different songs simultaneously. Here, the groups will take turns for
lunch. While some groups are having their meals, others perform in different parts of the community
carrying out different obligations, such as helping devotees to pay promises,[1] honouring the saints at the
altar of the community’s chapel, and saluting Arturos’ leaders, especially Arthur’s sons and daughters, in
front of their houses. All the groups hosts and visitors play different roles in the rituals. Therefore they
sing and play different songs and rhythms, all at the same time. Through these simultaneous performances
each one also expresses its identity as a Congado community. Late in the afternoon there is a large
procession towards the Church, where they carry images of honoured saints (Our Lady of the Rosary, Saint
Benedict the Black, Saint Iphigenia, among others) to take to the Church. Back in the community, the
groups lower the flags and carry out the final acts of the festival in the chapel.
The study presented in this paper is based on the analysis of video footage filmed during the festival hosted
by the Arturos community on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May 2006. The main purpose of the
recordings was to document occasions on which two Congado groups either meet and exchange ritual
greetings or come into close proximity with each other. The case studies investigated below were selected
from both days of the Congado ritual.
The audiovisual recordings were made by a team of six people[2] divided into three filming units,
each using one video camera (Sony PD-170) shooting in DVCAM format. Audio was recorded in 48
kHz/16 bit format. For units 1 and 2, four radio microphones (Sennheiser ew100-ENG G2) were employed,
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
attached to two of the main drums of each of the Congo and Moçambique groups of the Arturos
community. The audio signals from the radio microphones were fed to the cameras from the Congo to
camera 1, and from the Moçambique to camera 2 via two portable field mixers (Sound Devices Mix-Pre
and SQN 4S), where they were mixed with signals from two rifle microphones mounted on boom poles
(one of these rifle microphones was a Sennheiser K6-ME66, the other which gave inferior results a
cheaper generic model). The rifle microphones allowed each unit to record all of the singers and
percussionists of each group. The third unit recorded audio through the camera’s own external microphone
and provided an overall record of the soundscape of the ritual, often including two groups in the shot or
panning between two or more groups.
On the Saturday night, when Congado is only performed by the two Arturos’ groups, this set up
allowed units 1 and 2 to focus respectively on the Congo and on the Moçambique. On the Sunday, when
Congado groups from other communities join the festival, a much higher degree of flexibility in recording
was required: in fact, as the different groups moved freely around the Arturos’ community and the town of
Contagem (covering an area of several hundred square meters), it was not possible to predict which groups
would meet, where or when, and therefore to plan the filming in advance. However, units 1 and 2 who
were mostly following their respective Arturos’ group – could temporarily disable the radio microphones’
signals and limit the audio input to the rifle microphone only, and in this way record a group other than the
Arturos Congo or Moçambique. Unit 3 maintained the same settings and tasks as the previous day.
DVD copies of all of the tapes were made with embedded time code, and the first stage of analysis
involved logging the events on each tape in Excel spreadsheets. Working from these logs we selected for
analysis nine occasions on which two groups had played in close proximity. All of the video footage was
captured to Avid Media Composer video editing software, and the extracts relating to these occasions were
identified for preliminary editing.
Accurate synchronisation of the different shots was a lengthy process. We began by identifying
matching sections of the three shots using the camera time code, which had been set manually to
approximately the same time. Audio tracks were then exported and accurately synchronised in Audition,
using a form of triangulation between the three cameras: we matched the soundtracks of cameras 1 and 3 at
one point in an extract, and then synchronised cameras 2 and 3 at a different point in the same extract. This
process allows us to be confident of the synchrony between cameras 1 and 2 when the respective units
were focusing on different groups. Re-importing the adjusted audio tracks into Avid allowed us to then
synchronise the video tracks to within one frame (0.04 secs). On several occasions disturbances such as
tape changes resulted in gaps in the timing data, which are visible on the charts below. In these cases the
different sections of extant recordings had to be synchronised separately.
Timing data were derived from the audio tracks by tapping while listening to the audio tracks
(using Transcribe! software): the measure is therefore of perceived tempo rather than of drum onsets,
which were impossible to extract from these recordings because each track contains the sounds of many
drums playing simultaneously. In the first instance we tapped to a regular beat in each case, usually that
indicated by or in Figure 3. At a later stage in the analysis we tapped out the three main drum beats of
the extracts employing the Dobrado rhythm (see Figure 31 below). The tempo graphs below are all based
on the former. All of the extracts were tapped by Lucas, who has by far the greatest familiarity with the
repertoire, and these data were used for the analyses. All extracts were, however, tapped more than once to
check the reliability of the data. To give one example, in Extract 4 we compared the first tapping runs of
Clayton and Lucas. The average difference between the individual taps was 20 msecs, with over 85% of
corresponding taps falling within 40 msecs (the periodicity of the beat tapped was generally over 600
msecs). This suggests that the data give a reliable indication both of tempo trends and of the relative
placement of the beats between the groups. In order to have a robust measure of tempo that is less affected
by short-term fluctuations and outliers we used moving averages (over 7 or 9 data points) in order to test
for correlations between the tempo trends of two groups. Some of the variability in the relative phase data
will be due to micro-timing errors in the tapping: our assumption here is that such random variation will
not significantly affect the calculations of mean phase angles which form the bulk of our analyses below
(although they could lead to some underestimation of the strength of coupling between the two rhythms).
Having generated and checked the timing data, these were analysed using established methods for
determining the degree of synchrony and hence entrainment between two rhythmic processes (see
Clayton, 2007; Clayton, Sager & Will, 2005). First, the time series extracted in Transcribe! were exported
into Excel. From this data plots of tempo vs time were generated in order to give a visual impression of
how close the groups were in tempo at each point in the extract. Then, the relative phase of each pair of
time series was calculated in Excel.[3] Two graphical representations were generated from this data: one a
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
circular plot of the distribution of relative phase angles (in Oriana), the other a linear plot of relative phase
against time (in Excel). The linear plot of relative phase against time indicates how this relationship
changes over the course of the extract. If the phase relationship between the two groups stabilises for just a
portion of the extract, this phenomenon is apparent from this plot: in this case the data points appear to
stabilise or oscillate around a horizontal line representing a particular phase angle (otherwise the relative
phase tends to drift continuously, the data points forming a series of diagonal lines). Where this was
observed, circular plots were then made of these portions only, in order to analyse the phase relationships
in more detail. Summary statistics were also calculated in Oriana. The two principal measures are the angle
of the mean vector μ (which provides an indication of the phase attractor in entrained systems) and its
length r (which indicates the strength of coupling).[4] Graphical representations were therefore used as a
heuristic device, and circular statistics for detailed analysis of inter-group entrainment.
We also revisited the tempo data relating to periods when two groups appeared to entrain. The
trends lines (calculated as moving averages) were inspected visually, and the averaged time series were
also analysed in order to ascertain whether two groups’ tempo trends were correlated. Where the tempo
trend lines are correlated, this provides further corroboration of an entrainment hypothesis. This is because
synchrony does not in itself prove that two rhythmic processes are entrained: this synchrony needs to
reassert itself following a perturbation. A correlation between two tempo trends can be regarded as a series
of perturbations and reactions: in the simplest case, one group spontaneously speeds up and the other
responds. Correlated averaged time series therefore provide strong evidence for entrainment.
In the following sections we focus on the entrainment analyses themselves, but also provide
enough contextual description to enable the reader to understand what was going on in each case. From the
nine events selected for analysis, the four examples presented in this paper were chosen as providing
sufficient information to describe inter-group entrainment, and its avoidance, in this Congado festival.
Extract 1. Saturday evening: Two groups belonging to the Arturos Community pass each
Recorded on 13th May 2006 from 7.37 pm; duration 6 min 19 sec (379 secs)
This extract, recorded early on the first evening, features the physical crossing of two groups belonging to
the Arturos community. At the start of the extract the Arturos Congo group (AC) completes its ritual
greeting at the house of community matriarchs Dona Tita (full name Izaíra Maria da Silva) and Dona
Induca (full name Maria do Rosário da Silva), Arthur’s daughters, which lies at the bottom of an inclined
path. AC then performs a circular manoeuvre known as a half moon[5] and moves off uphill towards the
central courtyard and the community’s chapel. Meanwhile, the Arturos Moçambique group (AM) leaves
the chapel and processes downhill towards the same house. The two Captains pass each other at 291 secs,
at which point the two rows of AC separate and allow AM to pass between them on their way downhill
(see summary diagram, Figure 4). This can only occur with two groups belonging to the same community:
if the groups came from different communities they would have passed by the side of each other. The two
groups, as always, are singing their own songs which relate to the task or activity they are carrying out at
the time to the accompaniment of their own distinctive rhythmic patterns.
This extract was chosen as an opportunity to check for evidence of entrainment as the two groups
pass each other. All three filming units captured parts of this event: unit 1 following AC, unit 2 following
AM, and unit 3 positioned strategically at the meeting point. Although Cameras 2 and 3 did not capture the
whole of the time period captured on Camera 1, enough data was captured to enable analysis of the event.
While performing the greeting ritual, AC was playing Marcha Repicada, with its moderate tempo
of around 80 bpm. When the greeting ended, this group changed to the faster Dobrado rhythm in order to
leave and walk uphill. The tempo data for AC shows this abrupt acceleration to about 100 bpm.
Meanwhile, AM had started its Serra Acima rhythm at c. 92 bpm, faster than AC’s Marcha Repicada (80-
86 bpm), gradually accelerating to the tempo of AC’s Dobrado rhythm (c. 100 bpm) over a period of about
2½ mins (roughly 80-230 secs, see Figure 5).
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Figure 4. Summary diagram of the events of Extract 1, in which the two Arturos groups passed each other.
Red diagonal shading indicates the periods when the two groups became mutually entrained, as will be
demonstrated below (cf. Figure 6).
The plot of relative phase vs time for Extract 1 (see Figure 6) shows no evidence of stabilisation in
the phase relationship until about 271 secs, at which point the series appears to settle around 0°. This
continues until approximately 319 secs, at which point the relative phase drifts to just over 120°, before
appearing to stabilise again later on (c. 353 secs).
Extract 1 Tempo
060 120 180 240 300 360
Time (sec)
Tempo (bpm)
AC AM 9 per. Mov. Avg. (AC) 9 per. Mov. Avg. (AM)
Figure 5. Tempo chart for AC (Arturos’ Congado) and AM (Arturos’ Moçambique) groups, Extract 1. ‘9
per. Mov. Ave’ indicates the trendline based on a 9 point moving average of the tempo data.
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Figure 6. Relative phase plot of AM vs AC for Extract 1. Shading indicates periods of phase stabilisation,
which were identified visually on the chart in the first instance and subsequently investigated statistically
(cf. Figure 4).
The tempo chart for the period from 270 secs to the end of the clip shows how the tempo trends
move together from about 270 sec (see Figure 7), apart from a short time around 320-330 secs when AC
accelerates. This occurs once the groups have passed each other and are moving off in different directions.
Both charts suggest an extensive period of entrainment which is temporarily disturbed (there is a tempo
disturbance for 10 seconds and a phase disturbance for 34 seconds). The two periods of apparent
stabilisation (271-319 and 353 -379 secs) are now analysed in detail.
Extract 1 Tempo (detail, 270-379 secs)
270 300 330 360
Time (sec)
Tempo (bpm)
AC AM 7 per. Mov. Avg. (AC) 7 per. Mov. Avg. (AM)
Figure 7. Tempo chart for Extract 1, 270-379 secs only.
The circular plot and statistical analysis show clearly that for the period between 271 and 319 secs the
groups are closely synchronised, with a mean vector µ = 359.6° (i.e. almost exactly 0°), r = 0.963 (see
Figure 8 for the phase plot and Table 1 for summary statistics). On first inspection it is clear that this
period relates to the crossing of the two groups (see Figure 4). More detailed analysis of the video,
however, shows that the groups actually start to cross each other at 291 secs, 20 secs after they had become
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
entrained. The phase-locking corresponds to the point at which both groups have started moving towards
each other and have made visual contact (the AC drummers turn after performing an “half moon”, and start
moving towards AM at 267 secs). They would have been in auditory contact for some time before this,
although it is impossible to determine exactly how long from the recordings.
Figure 8. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 1, 271-319 secs only. The mean vector is indicated by
the arrow.[6]
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
< 1E-12
Table 1. Statistical analysis for Extract 1, 271-319 secs only.
Having completed the passing manoeuvre the groups appear to lose their mutual entrainment as the relative
phase drifts for some 30 seconds (319-353 secs), reaching a little over 120°. From 353 secs to the end of
the extract at 379 secs, however, the relative phase plot suggests that they may become phase locked once
again. The circular statistics confirm that this is the case, but that the synchronization is slightly out of
phase (μ = 349°) and the length of the mean vector is significantly less at 0.900, indicating a looser
entrainment here than in the first period of stabilisation (see Figure 9 and Table 2). The video of the event
shows that the AC group, having reached the top of the hill, again turns to face the AM group at 350 secs:
thus, once again, entrainment seems to correlate with visual contact (see Figure 4).
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Figure 9. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 1, 353-379 secs only.
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
< 1E-12
Table 2. Statistical analysis for Extract 1, 353-379 secs only.
Extract 2. Saturday evening: Two groups belonging to the Arturos Community play
together as a flag is raised
Recorded on 13th May 2006 from 11.13 pm; duration c.19 min
This second extract features the AC and AM groups, who having returned to their own community after
progressing around the town of Contagem on the first evening, are back in the courtyard outside their own
chapel. This extract starts with AC entering the chapel briefly, while AM is approaching, and ends with AC
going into the chapel again. In the course of the extract AM raises a flag in the centre of the courtyard
while AC stands nearby playing a different song in support. This forms a powerful climax to the evening’s
events. The extract was chosen to enable a study of entrainment effects while the two groups play in close
proximity for a sustained period: it seemed clear at the time that the two groups had entrained and played
in synchrony for a time. This was the only instance during the whole festival in which it seemed clear to
the authors that two groups had entrained and played in synchrony for a time (see Figure 10).
Again, we present first a tempo chart to provide an overview of the event (see Figure 11). This
shows that the AC group decelerates slightly from about 104 bpm to 98 bpm (playing the Dobrado
rhythm), before switching to a slow tempo Marcha Grave rhythm, c. 64 bpm, from about 895 secs. AM
starts the extract at a similar tempo to AC (c. 100 bpm), then the remainder of the clip shows two
ascending contours. This corresponds to two complete songs, which both start at about 88 bpm and then
gradually accelerate.[7] The two groups play at roughly the same tempo between about 700-900 secs, after
which AM accelerates to c. 108 bpm. The tempo chart appears to show a ‘flattening’ of the AM’s
otherwise constant acceleration during this period.
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Figure 10. Summary diagram of the events of Extract 2. Red diagonal shading indicates the periods when
the two groups became mutually entrained, as will be demonstrated below.
Extract 2 Tempo
0120 240 360 480 600 720 840 960 1080
Time (secs)
Tempo (bpm)
AC AM 9 per. Mov. Avg. (AC) 9 per. Mov. Avg. (AM)
Figure 11. Tempo chart for Extract 2.
Figure 12 below shows the plot of relative phase against time. For most of the extract, this plot
suggests that the phase has not stabilised. There may be a brief stabilisation within the first 100 secs or so,
and there is a clear and sustained period of stabilisation between about 720 and 840 secs. Again, these two
periods will now be analysed separately.
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Figure 12. Relative phase plot for AM vs AC in Extract 2. Shading indicates periods of phase stabilisation.
The relative phase plot remains around 0° between about 58 and 95 secs: analysis of this period suggests a
short term synchronization, with μ = 8.294° and r = 0.962 (see Figures 13 and 14; Table 3 for summary
statistics). This corresponds to a time at which AM is accelerating and AC decelerating, in other words at
which the two groups’ tempi cross. We would expect, therefore, that even without entrainment the relative
phase plot would change direction, making an arch shape on the plot, which it does: if the two rhythms
become entrained, the apex of the arch would be expected to flatten as the relative phase stabilises. Visual
evidence of the latter is weak (Figure 13), although the chart is consistent with the hypothesis that the
groups mutually entrain for a short period when their tempos almost match and their relative phase reaches
0°. The tempo chart for this period (Figure 15) seems, moreover, to indicate that the two tempo curves co-
vary between about 75 and 95 secs. In fact, comparing the two series of tempo data (using 5-point moving
averages to reduce random fluctuations), the Pearson correlation coefficient is 0.600 (p < 0.05); a similar
test on the periods 55-75 secs and 75-95 secs did not yield significant correlations. It seems, therefore, that
as the tempi of the two groups cross they briefly become entrained in phase with each other.
This apparent entrainment is hard to account for as it occurred while AC were performing inside
the chapel and AM were outside in the courtyard (AC entered the chapel at 57 secs and left at 105 secs).
The noise of the group playing inside the small confined space was very loud and the likelihood that AC
could have attended to the sound of AM is very small; the possibility that AM could hear the sound of AC
being directed out of the door of the chapel is somewhat higher. Given that one group was playing inside
the chapel and the other outside, moreover, visual contact would have been extremely limited in this case.
The most likely explanation is therefore that AM briefly became entrained to AC when they paid attention
to the sound of the latter, at a time when the tempi of the two groups happened to be very close.
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Figure 13. Relative phase plot for AM vs AC in Extract 2, 30-120 secs only.
Figure 14. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 2, 58-95 secs only.
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
Table 3. Statistical analysis for Extract 2, 58-95 secs only.
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Figure 15. Tempo chart for Extract 2, 30-120 secs only, with moving averages.
The phase plots and circular statistics for this period (see Figures 16 and 17 and Table 4) show a mean
phase angle μ = 0.624° and vector length r = 0.984, confirming the close in-phase synchrony of the two
groups for a period of about two minutes. The trend lines for the tempo during this period (see Figure 18)
show that they co-vary between about 720 and 840 secs. The Pearson correlation coefficient (using 5-pt
moving averages) is 0.562 (p < 0.01).
This example highlights the mutual impact of the two groups’ rhythms, while they remain playing
in close proximity with their attention fully directed to the accomplishment of important ritual acts.
Although AC and AM have different functions, which they perform by means of distinct songs and
rhythms, they both belong to the same community. Therefore, they do not direct their attention towards
avoiding entrainment, since they do not need to express their unique identities and origins through different
tempi. Jorge Antônio dos Santos, AM Captain who was conducting the singing, was surprised when he saw
the recordings and realized that both groups were synchronized immediately after the flag pole was raised.
For him it is an unexplainable and very meaningful phenomenon that expresses the community’s union
around a shared goal. According to Jorge, synchronization meant that although they were doing different
things, somehow they all remained linked one to the other.[8]
Figure 16. Relative phase plot for AM vs AC in Extract 2, 660-900 secs only.
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Figure 17. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 2, 718-840 secs only.
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
< 1E-12
Table 4. Statistical analysis for Extract 2, 718-840 secs only.
Extract 2 Tempo (detail, 660-870 secs)
660 720 780 840
Time (secs)
Tempo (bpm)
AC AM 9 per. Mov. Avg. (AM) 9 per. Mov. Avg. (AC)
Figure 18. Tempo chart for Extract 2, 660-870 secs only, with trend lines.
Extract 3. Sunday afternoon: Jardim Industrial Congo and Justinopolis Congo pass each
Recorded on 14th May 2006 from 4.23 pm; duration 4 mins 53 secs (293 secs)
This extract features a meeting between two visiting groups on the second afternoon, the Jardim Industrial
Congo (JIC) and Justinopolis Congo (JC); JC features a female Captain who blows a whistle in time with
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
the drums’ rhythm instead of singing. This extract was chosen to enable study of entrainment (and its
resistance) in an encounter between two Congo groups playing the same rhythmic pattern: Dobrado. The
two groups meet on a path in the community while they both continue to play. The JC group is going uphill
while JIC goes downhill towards the house of the main Captain of the Arturos community, Antônio Maria
da Silva more widely known as Seu Antonio to greet him.[9] The ritual greeting between two groups
involves an exchange of salutations between the Captains, who hold each other’s hand high and make the
sign of the cross, while the banner of each group is passed over the heads of the other group’s members.
Normally both Captains would keep singing throughout the greeting. This case is unusual because the JC
group’s Captain uses a whistle rather than singing: during the greeting she drops the whistle and remains
silent, while the JIC group’s Captain continues to sing. It appears that JC play louder and faster as they
approach JIC possibly to help avoid entrainment to the other group. Moreover, during the greeting the
two drummers playing at the front of both JIC and even more strikingly JC turn to face their own
group, trying to avoid visual contact with the other community’s Congo and to focus on their own team’s
fellow musicians.
The tempo chart (see Figure 19) shows that the JC group maintains a slightly higher tempo (117-
124 bpm) than the JIC (108-104 bpm), ruling out any possibility of period and phase locking. This is
supported by the relative phase time plot, which shows no stabilisation (see Figure 20). This analysis
confirms that it is possible for two groups to play in close proximity for a sustained period without
becoming entrained. It may also be significant that the JC tempo curve shows a slight increase over the
course of the extract and the JIC plot a slight decrease: it could be that the groups maintained their
separation by exaggerating the tempo difference. This, together with the attempt by the drummers to avoid
visual contact with the other group, seems to be the main strategy at play.
Extract 3 Tempo
060 120 180 240 300
Time (sec)
Tempo (bpm)
JC JIC 9 per. Mov. Avg. (JC) 9 per. Mov. Avg. (JIC)
Figure 19. Tempo plot for Extract 3.
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Figure 20. Relative phase plot for AM vs AC in Extract 3.
Extract 4. Sunday afternoon: Arturos Congo and Jardim Industrial Congo greet each other
Recorded 14th May 2006 from 4.41 pm; duration c.8 min
This case study features one host group and one visiting group AC and JIC meeting and formally
greeting each other near community elder Seu Antonio’s house. Both groups knew we were interested in
filming the greeting and were cooperating with us by carrying out a complete greeting ritual (see Figure
21). The extract starts with JIC performing outside Seu Antonio’s house and greeting him. At the same
point AC who have just regrouped after a short rest are emerging from the back of the same house
while performing. AC pass by JIC and move uphill along the path; then the group turns and moves
downhill facing Seu Antonio’s house; finally they meet JIC, who in the meantime have completed the
salutation of Seu Antonio and turned around. The two groups then exchange the ritual greeting.
Afterwards, JIC walk uphill, while AC move towards Seu Antonio’s house to salute him and take his
blessing. Like the previous one, this extract was chosen to enable study of entrainment effects while the
two groups play in close proximity and formally greet each other.
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Figure 21. Summary diagram of the events of Extract 4. Red diagonal shading areas indicate periods of
entrainment (cf. Figure 23).
The tempo plot (see Figure 22) shows that the two groups are playing at roughly the same tempo
throughout the extract (106-110 bpm) until JIC starts to accelerate at around 370 secs: this happens once
the greeting ritual is complete, at which point the group moves off uphill.
The relative phase plot (see Figure 23) shows considerable phase stabilisation until about 370
secs, the point at which JIC starts to accelerate and walks uphill. The position of the phase attractor shifts,
however: it lies around 120° for the first minute, followed by a possible stabilisation around 0°, followed
(after a break in the data) by a long period of stabilisation around -140° (or 220°) or from about 210 secs to
370 secs (a period of about 2½ mins). These three phases of apparent stabilisation will now be analysed in
Figure 22. Tempo plot for Extract 4.
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Figure 23. Relative phase plot for JIC vs AC in Extract 4. Shading indicates periods of phase stabilisation
(cf. Figure 21).
The phase plots and statistical analyses for the first 46 secs of the clip indicate a period of entrainment with
μ = 124.854°, r = 0.979 (see Figures 24 and 25, Table 5).
Figure 24. Relative phase plot for JIC vs AC in Extract 4, 0-60 secs only.
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Figure 25. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 4, 0-46 secs only.
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
< 1E-12
Table 5. Statistical analysis for Extract 4, 0-46 secs only.
The phase plots and statistical analyses for 55-87 secs of the clip indicate a period of entrainment with μ =
357.447° (-2.553°), r = 0.971 (see Figures 26 and 27, Table 6). The data immediately following this point
is missing, so we cannot confirm how long the groups remained entrained around 0°.
Figure 26. Relative phase plot for JIC vs AC in Extract 4, 30-90 secs only.
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Figure 27. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 4, 55-87 secs only.
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
Table 6. Statistical analysis for Extract 4, 55-87 secs only.
The phase plots and statistical analyses for 211-368 secs indicate a period of entrainment with μ = 223.184°
(-136.816°), r = 0.988 (see Figures 28 and 29, Table 7). The two groups have clearly entrained in a stable
relationship, but out of phase, with JIC 223° behind (or 137° ahead of) AC. To reinforce this point
graphically, Figure 30 shows the tempo chart for the same period: the two moving average trend lines
clearly track each other closely from about 211-368 secs (using the correlation analysis above, Pearson =
0.393, p < 0.01).
Figure 28. Relative phase plot for JIC vs AC in Extract 4, 180-420 secs only.
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Figure 29. Circular plot of phase angles for Extract 4, 211-368 secs only.
Number of Observations
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean Vector (r)
Circular Standard Deviation
Rayleigh Test (Z)
Rayleigh Test (p)
< 1E-12
Table 7. Statistical analysis for Extract 4, 211-368 secs only.
Figure 30. Tempo plot for Extract 4, 210-370 secs only.
The two groups certainly stabilise at 223° (-137°): they appear to stabilise at about 125° at the start of the
clip, and also although missing data means that we cannot confirm for how long almost in phase at
around 357° (-3°). Why should these particular phase angles be stable? In order to investigate this question
we carried out a further set of tapping runs to determine the perceived position of the 2nd and 3rd main beats
of the Dobrado rhythm for each of the two groups, expressed in terms of phase difference from beat one
(see Figure 31).
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Figure 31. Dobrado rhythmic pattern highlighting its main strokes (I, II and III)
The results are summarised in Table 8. For AC the second and third beats fall at 121° and 258°
respectively; for JIC they fall at 119° and 252°. Had the rhythm been an equal three-beat pattern these
angles would have been 120° and 240°; had it been a precise 3+3+2 pattern, they would have been 135°
and 270°. The patterns are therefore somewhat closer to the equal three-beat model than they are to a
3+3+2, but with the 3rd beat delayed.
AC 2nd beat
AC 3rd beat
JIC 2nd beat
JIC 3rd beat
Number of
Mean Vector (µ)
Length of Mean
Vector (r)
Table 8. Summary statistics for the positions of the perceived second and third beats relative to that of the
first beat of the JIC and AC groups, Extract 4.
Given these two groups’ rhythms, what is the significance of the phase differences of 125° and 223°? This
can easily be seen if the rhythms are visualised as circles and then overlaid (Figure 32). If the rhythms are
played almost exactly in phase, they are obviously highly congruent; out of phase by 125° they are also
well matched, with a phase difference of 17° between JIC’s beat 3 and AC’s beat 1. With a phase
difference of 223° we can again see that two of the three pairs of beats ‘match up’, but that the third pair
(JIC’s beat 1 and AC’s beat 3) shows a significant discrepancy of 34°. It appears therefore that the angle of
223°, which is that sustained for the longest confirmed period, combines stability (1 of the 3 beat pairs is
closely synchronised) with an audible difference (another pair of beats is clearly out of time with each
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Figure 32. A visualisation of the phase relationship between AC (outer circle, pink) and JIC (inner circle,
blue). With phase differences of 125° and 223° beat II of AC is close to one of the other beats of JIC’s
pattern, while the other pairs of beats are further apart especially AC III vs JIC I in the 223° position. The
‘in phase’ relationship is drawn at 357°, which is the mean phase angle calculated.
The main findings of the analyses of these four extracts can be summarised briefly as follows:
1. Extract 1
Two groups Congo and Moçambique belonging to the host community of Arturos pass each
other, one actually walking between the lines of the other. The two groups become entrained, in phase,
approximately 20 seconds before they pass each other, just after they have turned to face each other and
made visual contact. The Moçambique group, whose tempo tends to increase when playing this Serra
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
Acima rhythm, accelerates until it matches the tempo of the Congo group and then stabilises as the two
groups entrain. The entrainment is lost as the two groups move apart, but re-established as the Congo
group turns to face the Moçambique group once more: now the coupling is somewhat weaker, however,
and the two groups are physically further apart.
2. Extract 2
The same two Arturos’ groups play in close proximity at a climactic point in the ritual. Whereas in
the Moçambique’s previous song it had accelerated almost to the tempo of the Congo but not entrained, in
this song it does reach Congo’s tempo: the two groups effectively lock together in phase at this common
tempo and remain tightly entrained for about 2½ mins.
3. Extract 3
Two guest Congo groups pass each other on one of the community’s pathways and exchange ritual
greetings. The group with the faster tempo accelerates slightly and plays louder, while that with the slower
tempo decelerates slightly, while each group’s drummers try to avoid visual contact with the other group.
The two groups do not entrain.
4. Extract 4
Two Congo groups, one of the host community and one a guest, meet each other and carry out a
formal greeting ritual. Most of the time during which the greeting is being prepared and then carried out,
the two groups are entrained. However, the phase relationship between them shifts between three different
positions. The longest period of stability, which coincides to the greeting itself, is out of phase by 223°.
Analysis of the rhythmic patterns confirms that in this position one of the three main beats of the two
Dobrado patterns coincide, but the others clash noticeably.
These analyses suggest a number of factors which influence the occurrence of inter-group entrainment in
Proximity and Visual contact.
In each case in which entrainment took place, the two groups were in close proximity: in Extract 1,
moreover, it is worth repeating that the coupling is stronger when the two groups are closer together. In
Extract 3 there is proximity but not entrainment: proximity therefore seems to be a necessary but
insufficient condition for entrainment. Visual contact also seems to be important. In the first extract the two
groups became entrained shortly after they faced each other and made visual contact, but some 20 secs
before they physically passed each other. The point at which they make visual contact does not correspond,
as far as we can determine, to any other change which would have resulted in the two groups being in
stronger auditory contact. Although not conclusive in itself, this observation is consistent with other studies
which have identified the role of visual attention in unintended interpersonal entrainment (Schmidt &
O’Brien, 1997; Richardson et al., 2005, 2007). In the third extract, when the two groups managed to resist
entrainment, one of the strategies at play appears to be to avoid visual contact with the other group.
Similarity of tempo.
All the cases of entrainment observed here are in a 1:1 tempo relationship. In the fourth extract the two
groups’ tempi are close throughout and they become entrained. In the first two examples one group has a
tendency to accelerate and the other to keep a more stable tempo (sometimes decelerating slightly), which
means that the tempi are very likely to cross at various points, creating opportunities for entrainment. In the
third clip, when the two groups do not become entrained, there is a significant tempo difference which is
exaggerated by the groups as they meet.
When two groups of the same community meet, we take it from ethnographic data that they are not
attempting to resist entrainment. In both such cases examined here the two groups became strongly
entrained, in phase, when playing in close proximity. When two groups belonging to different communities
meet, on the other hand, we may assume that they are attempting to prevent entrainment. In one of the two
cases examined here the groups successfully avoided entrainment. In the other they did become entrained,
but for much of the time they remained out of phase. It seems probable that they were not aware that they
had become entrained, as was suggested by participants we interviewed later.
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This study confirms several findings of previous work in entrainment. First, as noted above, a
number of studies have shown the importance of visual focus in interpersonal entrainment. Secondly, the
coupling force necessary to entrain two oscillators is weaker if the difference between their periods is
small, so we would expect that groups close in tempo will entrain more easily. Thirdly, intention is less
frequently considered in entrainment studies, but these findings are consistent with Kelso’s (1995, p. 147)
suggestion that “one may construe intention as specific information acting on or perturbing the basic
(intrinsic) coordination dynamics”. In this case, we may identify ‘intrinsic’ dynamics in the systems
formed by the coupling of the groups coupling which is mediated by aural and visual attention. The
intentions of participants to either allow or resist entrainment, manifested in the attempt to concentrate
attention as much as possible on one’s own group, act upon these intrinsic dynamics.
There is no fundamental difference between the dynamics of intra-group and inter-group
entrainment, each of which involves the coordination of autonomous rhythmic entities. Awareness of the
inter-group level is potentially important in musical entrainment studies, nonetheless. First, although they
are rarely considered by academic researchers, events involving multiple co-present groups are in fact not
uncommon around the world. Sometimes this is necessary for ritual purposes, as in Congado; think also of
processions, or of sections of rival supporters in a crowd at a sporting event. Second, we might consider in
larger ensembles (such as orchestras) whether the entrainment dynamics are best considered on two levels,
intra-group (e.g. within the string section) and inter-group (cf. Maduell & Wing, 2007, on flamenco).
We have also attempted to demonstrate the usefulness of ethnography in directing and shaping the
empirical analysis of real-world events. Ethnography not only contributes by providing contextual data, but
also helps to reduce the observer’s cultural bias, thus enabling observation and interpretation to be more
closely oriented by the specific ways through which the people whose musical processes are being studied
perceive and experience reality. In this study, although the detailed claims regarding the occurrence of
entrainment are based on a rigorous quantitative analysis, this analysis would not have been possible
without both a detailed knowledge of the musical repertoire and an equally deep understanding of the ritual
context. In turn, the empirical analysis produced results that were not otherwise obvious or even suspected,
and we were able to discuss these results with participants in the ritual and further enrich the ethnographic
study. The study as a whole can therefore be regarded as a case study in the interaction between
ethnographic and quantitative modes of enquiry.
The authors would like to thank:
Udo Will and Ed Large for their advice on the entrainment analysis and their helpful comments on the
text, Devin McAuley for his circular statistics workbook, and other members of the Entrainment
Network for their comments on our presentations. Any errors in the final text are of course our
responsibility alone.
Rafael Anderson Guimarães Santos, André Lucas Guimarães, Leonardo Pires Rosse, Maria Luiza
Ramos, and Marília Rocha de Siqueira for their assistance with fieldwork and analysis.
All the members of the Arturos community of Contagem, who hosted the event analysed in these
pages and who helped us throughout our work in the field, and especially Antônio Maria da Silva, José
Bonifácio da Luz, Mário Braz da Luz, Izaíra Maria da Silva, and Maria do Rosário da Silva.
The members of Jardim Industrial’s Congo group for their assistance during the festival and during the
analysis phase, with special thanks to Ivan Coelho de Jesus.
This research was carried out thanks to the generous support of the Open University and of the British
Academy (grant references VF2007/45694 and SG44106).
[1] Devotees of Our Lady, whether congadeiros or not, may ask to pay promises during Congado rituals.
One at a time, these people normally follow one group around the chapel, dressed with Royal crown and
[2] Martin Clayton, Rafael Anderson Guimarães Santos, Laura Leante, Glaura Lucas, Leonardo Pires
Rosse, and Marília Rocha de Siqueira.
Empirical Musicology Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011
[3] This was done using a circular statistics spreadsheet prepared by Devin McAuley.
[4] By ‘phase attractor’ we mean a certain phase relationship to which the entrained system tends, and
around which it tends to stabilise: this is not always at or close to (in phase). By ‘strength of coupling’
we mean the degree to which the two rhythms (i.e. the two groups) are entrained, ranging from 0 (the two
groups are rhythmically entirely independent of each other) to 1 (the two groups are not at all independent).
[5] The “half moon” is a turn-around movement which Congo groups perform in certain circumstances. It
involves the two lines of Congo performing a “u-turn” (hence the “half-moon shape”) by crossing one
another; once all players and dancers have completed it, they repeat it in order to go back to their original
[6] Since each circle represents an individual data point, concentrations of data points within certain ranges
result in data points stacking up.
[7] This acceleration was described as follows by the Captain of the group:
“Every time I sing this song, I sing it in a very harmonious way, very slow. But as the song develops it
seems that the people who go singing the response, it seems that they obtain a kind of energy, and then
there’s a tendency for this song to accelerate. And it’s not only an acceleration of the rhythm, it’s as if
something strengthened all of us and gave us a greater motivation for the group, in such a way that we feel
the music is so important at that moment, that we let the feelings take over. And in that example, there is an
intention to accelerate the music, but this acceleration happens in all aspects, not only rhythmic, you know.
It’s the way we sing, the way we dance. It is as if there was an energy that comes and passes through our
body and totally modifies the tempo the music was supposed to have. And this does not happen only with
this song, but also with many other songs that have the same tempo, the same meaning. But, as the song
develops, as we go singing it, it goes through this acceleration, let’s say, spontaneously” (Jorge Antônio
dos Santos interview on October 20th, 2007).
[8] Jorge Antônio dos Santos - interviewed by Lucas on October 20th, 2007.
[9] Antônio Maria da Silva is Arthur’s son.
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... Subsequent empirical studies of interpersonal entrainment in musical performance have explored the use of visual information to track coordination between musicians (Clayton, 2007b) and integrated the analysis of entrainment between musicians with ethnographic study of group dynamics in jazz ensembles (Doffman, 2013) and Cuban dance groups (Poole, 2012). Lucas, Clayton, and Leante (2011) explored the dynamics of entrainment between distinct musical groups in an Afro-Brazilian ritual tradition. ...
... Apart from the short and long-term formation of social groups we should consider that groups tend to be defined in contrast to out-groups. The out-group is often not present at the time of musical and ritual performance, but Lucas, Clayton, and Leante (2011) illustrate the case of groups refusing to entrain with out-groups in a ritual context. Moreover, within the group there almost always exists some form of differentiation of role and/or status. ...
... In discussing this we return to Collins' interaction ritual chains theory to broaden the discussion of the sociocultural significance of IME (Figure 1). Collins' ''ritual ingredients'' include group assembly (the co-presence of performers that allows them to mutually entrain); barriers to outsiders (which may be related to the cultural specificity of knowledge, or to a refusal to entrain with outgroups as in Lucas et al. 2011); and a mutual focus of attention (the activities of making music, associated activities such as dance and other ritual actions) which is linked to shared mood (entrainment has been linked to affective entrainment, see section Prosocial Behavior & Affect). According to Collins these elements help to generate Durkheim's collective effervescence, an overflowing of positive affect that motivates the repetition of ritual and generates, amongst other things, group solidarity. ...
Interpersonal musical entrainment—temporal synchronization and coordination between individuals in musical contexts—is a ubiquitous phenomenon related to music’s social functions of promoting group bonding and cohesion. Mechanisms other than sensorimotor synchronization are rarely discussed, while little is known about cultural variability or about how and why entrainment has social effects. In order to close these gaps, we propose a new model that distinguishes between different components of interpersonal entrainment: sensorimotor synchronization—a largely automatic process manifested especially with rhythms based on periodicities in the 100–2000 ms timescale—and coordination, extending over longer timescales and more accessible to conscious control. We review the state of the art in measuring these processes, mostly from the perspective of action production, and in so doing present the first cross-cultural comparisons between interpersonal entrainment in natural musical performances, with an exploratory analysis that identifies factors that may influence interpersonal synchronization in music. Building on this analysis we advance hypotheses regarding the relationship of these features to neurophysiological, social, and cultural processes. We propose a model encompassing both synchronization and coordination processes and the relationship between them, the role of culturally shared knowledge, and of connections between entrainment and social processes.
... 57 Lucas, collaborating with Clayton, recorded fascinating evidence in intergroup cultural communication via large-scale musical entrainment. 58 The study was conducted amid an Afro-Brazilian Congado performance, in which the researchers observed roving bands of musicians organized by regional identity. During active interaction between groups, intergroup phase entrainment in music production is established until the interaction ends, at which time intergroup entrainment dissipates. ...
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Rhythm deeply permeates the environment and is perceived by nearly all sensory modalities. There is a developing trend in cognitive science to look to neural rhythms at varying scales as the source of subjective experience. This approach, which looks to the oscillatory correlates of consciousness—electromagnetic field oscillations generated by the brain—as a quantifiable measure of consciousness, provides a novel avenue for bridging the subjective-objective divide. Oscillatory rhythms in the brain can originate endogenously or exogenously and can have varying impacts on subjective experience. Some exogenous rhythms, including audio rhythms, can have surprisingly strong impacts, sufficient to label these induced states “altered states of consciousness.” This piece examines the role of external auditory rhythms (speech, binaural beats, and music) in influencing conscious states of affected individuals at individual and interpersonal scales. This new methodology expands the scope by which cognitive science can be practically applied in studying the subjective experience.
... Shared movement and visual cues during music coordinate interaction and improve accuracy [18][19][20]. Musical synchrony increases a sense of shared intentionality and decreases the experience of self-other distinction [21][22][23][24], and can relate to a sense of communal identity [25][26][27]. Both a form of communication and joint action, music is intrinsically interpersonal [28][29][30]. ...
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Music’s deeply interpersonal nature suggests that music-derived neuroplasticity relates to interpersonal temporal dynamics, or synchrony. Interpersonal neural synchrony (INS) has been found to correlate with increased behavioral synchrony during social interactions and may represent mechanisms that support them. As social interactions often do not have clearly delineated boundaries, and many start and stop intermittently, we hypothesize that a neural signature of INS may be detectable following an interaction. The present study aimed to investigate this hypothesis using a pre-post paradigm, measuring interbrain phase coherence before and after a cooperative dyadic musical interaction. Ten dyads underwent synchronous electroencephalographic (EEG) recording during silent, non-interactive periods before and after a musical interaction in the form of a cooperative tapping game. Significant post-interaction increases in delta band INS were found in the post-condition and were positively correlated with the duration of the preceding interaction. These findings suggest a mechanism by which social interaction may be efficiently continued after interruption and hold the potential for measuring neuroplastic adaption in longitudinal studies. These findings also support the idea that INS during social interaction represents active mechanisms for maintaining synchrony rather than mere parallel processing of stimuli and motor activity.
... Unsurprisingly, these studies provide a much more detailed and nuanced view on gaze and temporal coordination compared to my ad hoc observations as a practitioner. In line with my experience that partner-gazing improved our communication of the pulse, visual information has proved crucial for establishing entrainment (Clayton, 2007;Clayton & Leante, 2013;Geeves et al., 2014;Lucas, Clayton, & Leante, 2011;Moran, 2010Moran, , 2013 Additionally, the regularity of the metre influences the quantity of partner-gazing, as was shown in a study by Bishop et al. (2019a). Contradicting the observations in some of these studies is the finding that synchronisation does not necessarily differ significantly between conditions with and without visual contact (Bishop et al., 2019a;Keller & Appel, 2010), although, alternatively, there is some evidence that visual contact encourages a more creative attitude towards the treatment of temporal coordination (Keller & Appel, 2010;Morgan et al., 2015b). ...
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During ensemble playing, musicians are challenged to convey their intentions towards each other and to coordinate their actions. To that purpose, they can rely on several nonverbal means of expression: the produced musical sounds, bodily movements, facial expressions and—the focus of this research—gaze. Since the 1990s, researchers have increasingly investigated the bodily aspects of musical performance. While the study of ensemble interaction initially benefitted solely from the examination of bodily movements, more recently, it is getting enriched by inquiries into gaze behaviour as well (Biasutti et al., 2016; Bishop et al., 2019a; Fulford & Ginsborg, 2014; Fulford et al., 2018; Kawase, 2009, 2014a, 2014b; King & Ginsborg, 2011; Moran, 2010; Morgan et al., 2015a, 2015b; Vandemoortele et al., 2015, 2016; Williamon & Davidson, 2002; Yamada et al., 2014). The current research was encouraged by the recent development of mobile eye-tracking, and involved pioneering work in the newly emerging domain of gaze in musical interaction. Novel insights were gained through observational and self-observational study, which, respectively, dealt with partner-gazing as an externally observable phenomenon and the musician–researcher’s personal conceptions of gaze as a communicative instrument in ensemble playing. Specifically, a mobile eye-tracking experiment with four trios, a mobile eye-tracking experiment with the researcher’s trio, and a self-reflective study in the researcher’s chamber music practice formed the basis for a wide range of analyses. The results can be summarised according to three categories of insights. Psychological factors, a first category, were the focus in two analyses in the observational eye-tracking study. These dealt with the impact of the individual and the rehearsal stage on the amount of partner-gazing, and the relation between partner-gazing and the compositional form. Insights into ensemble playing as a multimodal issue form a second category. Specifically, an analysis as part of the observational eye-tracking study verified if leader–follower roles before a joint entrance can be derived from the way gaze and bodily movement are interwoven. The self-reflective study supplements the findings with insights from the researcher’s own practice. Finally, the self-reflective study also shows how gaze can be activated in a broad range of unique situations. Gaze can become relevant in response to a great number of ensemble goals related to the interaction among the musicians, stage presence, and individual needs. These goals can overlap or conflict with each other with respect to gaze. Moreover, one can monitor several physical aspects of partner-gazing in case one deliberately activates gaze. For instance, a musician can regulate the duration of a partner-gaze or avoid unnecessary head movements while changing gaze direction. Thanks to its wide range of analyses, the dissertation invites new lines of thought and research regarding a subject which has hitherto remained underexplored in both the literature and chamber music practice. Gaze in ensemble playing is often a matter of automatic, non-deliberate behaviour, so that it is easy to consider it an unimportant aspect of ensemble playing. This research, however, shows that it most certainly plays a sophisticated role in various practice situations.
... Musical preferences of mutual friends are more similar than those of randomly paired persons 29 . Additionally, in Afro-Brazilian Congado -a ritual with multiple musical ensembles playing at the same time while moving through the town -groups of the same community are more likely to entrain than groups of different communities 30 . Even without active movement or interpersonal interactions, listening to music from a specific culture can increase the implicit preference for facial pictures of people from that culture 31 . ...
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Social bonds are essential for our health and well-being. Music provides a unique and implicit context for social bonding by introducing temporal and affective frameworks, which facilitate movement synchronization and increase affiliation. How these frameworks are modulated by cultural familiarity and individual musical preferences remain open questions. In three experiments, we operationalized the affective aspects of social interactions as ratings of interpersonal closeness between two walking stick-figures in a video. These figures represented a virtual self and a virtual other person. The temporal aspects of social interactions were manipulated by movement synchrony: while the virtual self always moved in time with the beat of instrumental music, the virtual other moved either synchronously or asynchronously. When the context-providing music was more enjoyed, social closeness increased strongly with a synchronized virtual other, but only weakly with an asynchronized virtual other. When the music was more familiar, social closeness was higher independent of movement synchrony. We conclude that the social context provided by music can strengthen interpersonal closeness by increasing temporal and affective self-other overlaps. Individual musical preferences might be more relevant for the influence of movement synchrony on social bonding than musical familiarity.
Using a combination of ethnography, empirical measures of microtiming between rhythm-section musicians and ethno/musicological analyses, this article examines and measures groove in three real-world performances of the popular dance tradition of Cuban son and salsa. The findings paint a complex picture of groove that is shaped by rhythmic-harmonic structure, shared concepts of timing, individual preferences, group dynamics and rhythmic interactions between musicians as they work together to negotiate a groove with the ‘correct’ feel. Microtiming analyses produce a snapshot of how rhythmic timing relationships are ‘played out’ between musicians in live performances and provide quantitative measures of the level of synchrony and separation within the rhythm section. They also suggest that microtiming is influenced by certain metric locations within the rhythmic-harmonic structure, particularly those locations that anticipate harmonic changes and mark the beginning of repeated rhythmic-harmonic sequences.
Recent scholarship on the concept of flesh in Christianity points to the body’s susceptibility to change and influence from material phenomena as well as from social and discursive forces. But what are the processes by which such forces shape the body? This article argues, by analyzing three Christian practices from distinctive contexts—the Hesychast Jesus Prayer, medieval liturgical dance, and African American preaching—that rhythm is a key to understanding these processes. Each practice forms a body capable of connecting with spiritual forces by leveraging the body’s material rhythms and their symbolic associations through a process called entrainment in relation to a particular social context. The analysis of each practice, therefore, contributes to our understanding of how material and nonmaterial factors work together in the process of religious formation by uncovering the ways in which rhythm connects both dimensions.
In this article I discuss the use of rehearsal drills among the tambores musicians of Villa El Salvador (VES), an underprivileged yet emerging district of Lima, Peru that was built and populated by Andean and mestizo settlers starting in the 1970s. Tambores is a drum genre derived from Afro-Brazilian batucada music that incorporates community-oriented values inherited from the seminal ideological principles established by the first wave of rural settlers. Starting in the early 2000s, grassroots organisations led by VES adolescents began developing and disseminating local pedagogies to promote tambores music as a conduit for galvanising communal engagement and solidarity. The article shows how VES musicians deploy rehearsal routines to fortify their grassroots initiatives, seeking to enfranchise other adolescents by incorporating bodily techniques for self-empowerment and dynamic socialisation. Through this pedagogical programme, tambores musicians employ the rehearsal as a space where the district’s youth may fine-tune and ‘transform’ their bodies and social attitudes in order to become engaged and positively motivated members of the VES community.
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We provide behavioural and quantitative analyses of coordination and synchronization in ensemble performance, using flamenco as a case study. The concept of ensemble is introduced and developed with the aid of connected network models, then applied to the flamenco ensemble. Flamenco performance is described in terms of ensemble interaction, including both the types of rhythmical accompaniment used by the individual classes of performer participating in the ensemble and the main sociocultural factors governing control of rhythm and cuing changes. These factors involve hierarchies relating to the degree to which each performer commands audience attention (focus) and the status of ensemble members within the company. We describe an observational approach to ensemble coordination with an event-based video analysis of a four-member ensemble performing a flamenco piece and a correlation-based motion analysis of two-person performance of simple rhythm. Copyright
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Past research has shown that interpersonal interactions are characterized by a tacit coordination of motor movements of the participants and has suggested that the emergent synchrony might be explained by a coupled oscillator dynamic. This study investigates whether unintended between-person coordination can be demonstrated in a laboratory task that will allow an evaluation of whether such dynamical processes are involved. Ten pairs of participants performed a simple rhythmic task in which they had visual information about each other's movements but had no goal to coordinate. A cross-spectral analysis of the movements revealed higher coherence and a distribution of relative phase angles that was dominated by values near 0° and 180°. These results support the hypothesis that dynamical organizing principles are involved in natural interpersonal synchrony.
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Entrainment has been suggested as an important phenomenon underlying aspects of musical behaviour, and is attracting increasing attention in music psychology (see e.g. Large and Jones, 1999; Large, 2000), and in ethnomusicology (Clayton, Sager and Will, 2005). Approaches to its study in ethnomusicology must address a significant methodological problem: how to study entrainment phenomena in an ecologically valid manner, and to integrate this process into a programme of ethnographic research. Video recordings contain important data regarding the physical movements of participants in musical events (as well as their audible results), and through the application of observational analysis software these recordings can form the basis of studies of entrainment between different quasi-periodic musical processes as manifested in movement patterns. For the present study a short video clip of an Indian raga performance was selected (taken from a performance of Shree Rag by the singer Veena Sahasrabuddhe). Observational analysis was carried out using The Observer Video-Pro software, configured to record the plucking of tanpura strings and performers’ beat markers (hand or finger taps). Time series data thus generated were analysed using calculations of phase relationships, revealing several instances of both self- and interpersonal entrainment (the stated intention of the performers is, on the contrary, that the tanpura rhythms should each proceed independently). Entrainment between these behaviours points to a complex, but unintended form of emergent order. This unexpected result demonstrates the usefulness of this method in revealing otherwise unnoticed phenomena in musical performance, and raises important questions for future research.
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Entrainment, broadly defined, is a phenomenon in which two or more independent rhythmic processes synchronize with each other. To illuminate the significance of entrainment for various directions of music research and promote a nuanced understanding of the concept among ethnomusicologists, this publication opens with an exposition of entrainment research in various disciplines, from physics to linguistics and psychology, while systematically introducing basic concepts that are directly relevant to musical entrainment. Topics covered include consideration of self-synchrony and interpersonal synchrony in musical performance, humans’ innate propensities to entrain, the influence of cultural and personal factors on entrainment, the numerous functions of musical entrainment in individual health, socialization, and cultural identification, and a presentation of methodologies and analytical techniques. Finally, some case studies illustrating one methodological strand, that of chronometric analysis, exemplify how the application of the entrainment concept might lead to an understanding of music making and music perception as an integrated, embodied and interactive process.
A theory of attentional dynamics is proposed and aimed at explaining how listeners respond to systematic change in everyday events while retaining a general sense of their rhythmic structure. The approach describes attending as the behavior of internal oscillations, called attending rhythms, that are capable of entraining to external events and targeting attentional energy to expected points in time. A mathematical formulation of the theory describes internal oscillations that focus pulses of attending energy and interact in various ways to enable attentional tracking of events with complex rhythms. This approach provides reliable predictions about the role of attending to event time structure in rhythmical events that modulate in rate, as demonstrated in 3 listening experiments.
Congo, Moçambique and Candombe are Afro-Brazilian religious groups that take part in brotherhoods of Our Lady of the Rosary and in their festivals-Congado-in Minas Gerais, Brazil. These rituals are accomplished through music. Thus singing, playing and dancing are a unique mode of praying. Focusing on the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of Contagem and that of Jatobá-both situated in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais-the rhythmic behaviour of these groups is discussed, for the instruments and their rhythmic language are sacred. The variation procedures in the rhythmic patterns are related to the function of each group, to the time/space of performances and to the hierarchy holding of them by force of the legend behind the rituals. /// Congo, Moçambique e Candombe são grupos religiosos afro-brasileiros que participam de irmandades de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e de suas festas-o Congado-em Minas Gerais, Brasil. Esses rituais são cumpridos através da música, do canto e da dança. Considerando o caráter sagrado dos instrumentos e de seus ritmos, é abordado o comportamento rítmico dos grupos que integram as Irmandades de Contagem e do Jatobá, ambas situadas na região metropolitana de Belo Horizonte, capital de Minas Gerais. Os procedimentos de variação nos padrões rítmicos estão relacionados ao espaço/tempo das performances e às funções dos grupos, conforme a hierarquia entre eles, estabelecida na lenda que fundamenta os rituais.
How do people synchronize movement patterns with music? Most likely, when people listen to a musical rhythm, they perceive a beat and a metrical structure in the rhythm, and these perceived patterns enable coordination with the music. Here, a model of meter perception is proposed in which a musical stimulus provides input to a pattern-forming dynamical system. Under rhythmic stimulation, the system undergoes bifurcations that correspond to the birth of self-sustained oscillations and the formation of temporally structured patterns of oscillations. The resulting patterns dynamically embody the perception of beat and meter, and they are stable in the sense that they can persist in the in the face of rhythmic conflict. The performance of the model is compared with the results of a recent beat induction study (J. Snyder, C.L. Krumhansl, Tapping to ragtime: Cues to pulse-finding. Music Perception, 2000 (under review)) in which musicians tapped along with musical rhythms. The network closely matched human performance for natural musical signals and showed a similar pattern of breakdowns as the input degraded. The theoretical implications of these findings are considered.
This book develops a theory of musical meter based on psychological research in temporal perception, cognition, and motor behavior. Meter is regarded as a kind of entrainment, a synchronization of attention and actions to the rhythms of the environment. Drawing on research on the ability to make durational discriminations and categorizations at various tempos, as well as evidence from neurobiology, the "speed limits" for meter are given: the inter-onset interval for metric elements must be greater than 100ms (10 per second) and less than 1.5-2.00 seconds. Care is taken to distinguish rhythms or patterns of duration from meters, the listener/performer's complex patterns of expectation and attention. It is thus shown that metric behaviors are highly tempo-dependent. Ambiguities may arise when a rhythmic pattern may be regarded under more than one meter, and conflicts may arise when a pattern of durations contradicts the ongoing meter. The music-theoretical core of the book is its development of a set of metric well-formedness constraints, which limit the temporal range and organization of patterns of metric entrainment. A consideration of the rhythmic practices of various non-western cultures, including some African and Indian music, leads to an additional well-formedness constraint, that of maximal evenness. This allows for meters that involve uneven (i.e., non-isochronous) beats or beat subdivisions. The book concludes with the many meters hypothesis, which proposes that a large number of expressively timed temporal templates are acquired that are readily used when listening in familiar musical contexts.
A temporally based theory of attending is proposed that assumes that the structure of world events affords different attending modes. Future-oriented attending supports anticipatory behaviors and occurs with highly coherent temporal events. Time judgments, given this attending mode, axe influ- enced by the way an event's ending confirms or violates temporal expectancies. Analytic attending supports other activities (e.g., grouping, counting), and if it occurs with events of low temporal coherence, then time judgments depend on the attending levels involved. A weighted contrast model describes over- and underestimations of event durations. The model applies to comparative duration judgments of equal and unequal time intervals; its rationale extends to temporal productions/extrap- olations. Two experiments compare predictions of the contrast model with those derived from other traditional approaches. One characteristic of modern society is a preoccupation with fixed time schedules and standardized timekeepers. We main- tain appointments at hourly intervals, rush to meet the 5:00 p.m. bus, and dine at predetermined hours. Yet our natural ability to judge time remains poorly understood. How often do we estimate the time elapsed since last glancing at a clock and discover with surprise that we were fairly accurate? Surprise is understandable because at least as often we lose track of time and err. The validity of these impressions is confirmed by labo- ratory research showing that duration judgments depend not only on actual physical duration but also on a variety of non- temporal factors. These include the spatial layout and complex- ity of an event as well as the attentional set, skill, affect, and constitutional state of the judge (Allan, 1979; Fraisse, 1984; Kristofferson, 1984).