Musical collaboration in rhythmic improvisation

Shinnosuke Nakayama, Vrishin R. Soman, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite our intimate relationship with music in every-day life, we know little about how people create music. A particularly elusive area of study entails the spontaneous collaborative musical creation in the absence of rehearsals or scripts. Toward this aim, we designed an experiment in which pairs of players collaboratively created music in rhythmic improvisation. Rhythmic patterns and collaborative processes were investigated through symbolic-recurrence quantification and information theory, applied to the time series of the sound created by the players. Working with real data on collaborative rhythmic improvisation, we identified features of improvised music and elucidated underlying processes of collaboration. Players preferred certain patterns over others, and their musical experience drove musical collaboration when rhythmic improvisation started. These results unfold prevailing rhythmic features in collaborative music creation while informing the complex dynamics of the underlying processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number233
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Collaboration
  • Information theory
  • Music
  • Recurrence
  • Symbolic dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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