In audible movements

Exploring inaudible and audible aspects of improvised music making


Download related project background publications here:

Gilbertson, S. (2015). In visible hands: The matter and making of music therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 52(4), pp. 487-514. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thv014

Gilbertson, S. (2013). Improvisation and Meaning. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 8, pp. 65-74.

See Publications for a full list of publications and talks

Project inertia

This project investigate the interrelation between movements of thought, physical movement and musical structures in music improvisation in individual intraaction and person-to-person interaction.

Project description

To do this, new research skills in behavioral research using industry standard multiple-camera video analysis and synthesis of observational data will be acquired. This learning will be done in collaboration with the study participants ensuring that the largest number of colleagues and students gain experience in this highly relevant research methodology and related techniques. This will lead to an increase in research capacity and a shared knowledge of core research skills and techniques within the Grieg Academy - Institute for Music and beyond. The third goal of this project is to further establish and develop multidisciplinary collaboration between students and staff of different professional groups within the Grieg Academy and GAMUT in research and teaching. The integration of shared teaching, research and collaboration is a core goal of the Grieg Academy and this study aims to contribute to that goal in a practical and effective manner. Though this study will first explore possibilities between music therapy and jazz, the goals are not restricted to these domains and will look to performance and musicology studies during the project’s continuing development.


As the project has many pilot study qualities, participants will be recruited using pragmatic sampling and will include students and colleagues within the areas of music therapy and music performance within the Grieg Academy.


This project is based within the traditions of two forms of research: observational behavioral research and descriptive musicological analysis. To record, analyse and present the findings of the study of the improvisations, the state of the art research solution, a Portable Observation Lab based around the software Observer XT from Noldus Information Technologies will be used. This solution is one of the World's leading solutions for behavioral research. Using this technolgy it possible to record and annotate interpersonal interaction, physical movement, interaction with a music instrument, and notes and chords that are played along with intrapersonal narrative texts. With the Observer XT setup that we have it is possible to record and analyse up to four video recordings simultaneously direct to hard disk and then code the observed interaction. In the next step, Observer XT is able to generate visual and quantitative data regarding the content, timing and interrelation between the actions of each of the musicians at the highest level of accuracy possible. Statistical data can be used to identify hidden patterns of interaction between the musicians underlying their music making which can be considered within the theoretical frameworks of human dynamics and interrelating in music improvisation. Recently, the addition of ten GoPro Hero cameras with a range of attachment devices to the project makes it possible to film with up to 14 cameras simultaneously providing a wider range and scope of angles, movements, and commonly hidden aspects of music making. The robust nature of the setup makes research of this kind possible regardless of rehearsal, practice or live performance setting.


The output of this study includes individual articles on the single elements of the project and one article containing a discussion and presentation of the results of the complete project. The project will also be presented at one national and one international conference. As fulfillment of the third goal of interdisciplinary work within the Grieg Academy/Gamut, an integration of the research methods and skills into relevant education programs will be carried out.

Selected images of the equipment and technology

For more information about the Portable Obervation Lab and Observer XT from the Noldus Information Technologies website.

For more information about the GoPro cameras used in this project from the GoPro website.