, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 111–127 | Cite as

Rhythmic synchrony and mediated interaction: towards a framework of rhythm in embodied interaction

  • Satinder P. GillEmail author
Original Article


Our everyday interactions increasingly involve both embodied face-to-face communication and various forms of mediated and distributed communication such as email, skype, and facebook. In daily face-to-face communications, we are connected in rhythm and synchrony at multiple levels ranging from the moment-by-moment continuity of timed syllables to emergent body and vocal rhythms of pragmatic sense-making. Our human capacity to synchronize with each other may be essential for our survival as social beings. Moving our bodies and voices together in time embodies a potent pragmatic purpose that of being together. In this synchrony of self with other, witnessing and being present become part of each other. There is growing research into how rhythm and synchrony operate in embodied face-to-face interaction and this provides parameters for investigating the relations and differences in how we connect and are socially present in the embodied and distributed settings, and understanding the effect of one setting upon the other. This paper explores the arena of research into rhythm in human interaction, musical and linguistic, with a focus on the movements of body and voice. It draws together salient issues and ideas that would form the basis for a framework of rhythm in embodied interaction.


Rhythm Interpersonal synchrony Entrainment Body moves Mutuality Sense-making Floating intentionality Social presence 



I would like to thank Tommi Himberg, Ian Cross, Caroline Nevejan, and Jane Liddel-King for their support and helpful comments in writing this paper.


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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Music and ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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