Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 189, Issue 3, pp 361–372 | Cite as

TauG-guidance of transients in expressive musical performance

  • Benjaman Schogler
  • Gert-Jan Pepping
  • David N. LeeEmail author
Research Article


The sounds in expressive musical performance, and the movements that produce them, offer insight into temporal patterns in the brain that generate expression. To gain understanding of these brain patterns, we analyzed two types of transient sounds, and the movements that produced them, during a vocal duet and a bass solo. The transient sounds studied were inter-tone f 0(t)-glides (the continuous change in fundamental frequency, f 0(t), when gliding from one tone to the next), and attack intensity-glides (the continuous rise in sound intensity when attacking, or initiating, a tone). The temporal patterns of the inter-tone f 0(t)-glides and attack intensity-glides, and of the movements producing them, all conformed to the mathematical function, τ G(t) (called tauG), predicted by General Tau Theory, and assumed to be generated in the brain. The values of the parameters of the τ G(t) function were modulated by the performers when they modulated musical expression. Thus the τ G(t) function appears to be a fundamental of brain activity entailed in the generation of expressive temporal patterns of movement and sound.


Brain Movement control Acoustics Tau coupling Musical expression General Tau Theory 



The research was supported by a grant from the University of Minnesota, and the writing by a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship to DNL. We thank P. Biggs, E. Ward, B. Harvey, and J. Scriven who helped carry out the singing and bass playing experiments for their Senior Honours dissertations in Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 2004. We thank the Speech Science Research Centre, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh where the singing experiments were carried out with the help of Nigel Hewlett and colleagues.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjaman Schogler
    • 1
  • Gert-Jan Pepping
    • 1
    • 2
  • David N. Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Perception-Movement-Action Research Centre, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences and Moray House School of EducationUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Center for Human Movement SciencesUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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