Former projects

  • Gestème and Gestuaire The two projects focus on the production of musical gestures which communicate musical emotions through the expressivity of the musician. Gestème involves the orchestra and the composition and theory department of the Geneva University of Music, the choreography departments of the CNSMD Lyon, the Neuroscience of Emotion and Affective Dynamics lab and the  Swiss Center for Affective Sciences. The collaborators of the project Gestème have studied the involvement of the body and gestures in the creative process of a piece of music, in the musicians’ performance, and in the metaphorical descriptions and related emotions made by the listeners. The link between musical gestures and feelings of the listener lies at the heart of a major scientific issue in theoretical models on the genesis of emotions. Indeed, some authors suggest that the involvement of the body in perception is essential (embodiment theory) while others consider that this involvement is not necessary (semantic networks theory). Listening to a highly expressive piece of music could involve to a certain extent body representations and/or movements related to gestural and/or spatial metaphors. This question can be investigated by using various methods which involve muscle and brain activation measures in regions or areas known for their motor planning, preparation and even motor command functions. Thus, the study of the neural underpinnings of gestural metaphors and of psychological processes related to the emotions they elicit and convey will help to better characterize the levels of representations –motor and semantic in particular– involved in the process of interpreting and perceiving a musical piece. Different methods of investigation are used, such as behavioral methods, thermography,  functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG). In this project, an adaptation of the Brunswik’s lens model (1955) will be subject to special attention to better understand the emotional communication within a musical performance. This model allows a comprehensive analysis of the musical creative process, encompassing the encoding phase (i.e. the compositor and/or musician) and the decoding phase (i.e. the audience), both involved in the communication of emotional states and processes. One of the many advantages of this model is that it provides the opportunity to study not only a single entity (e.g. the emotional response of the listeners) but also the interactions between the various entities involved in the process (e.g. the investigation of musical elements in the score and the impact on the emotional response of the listeners).

  • [grɛ̃] Studied the involvement of the body and gesture in the play of the musicians as they peform. New levels of granularity 5 of the academic/emphatic paradigm have been tested.

  • Métakinésis The Métakinésis project is a research on the role of the body and gesture in the metaphorical descriptions of the musical experience, the semantic analysis of listener’s corporeal and gestural metaphors . The project leader is Francesco Spampinato (IDEAT, CNRS Paris 1 – Sorbonne University UPMAT Rome). The project has involved about 80 students of the Geneva University of Music.

  • MIE (Music Images Emotions) project explores the emotional link between music and images. It focuses on the different types of emotional synchronization and on possible invariants involved in associations, such as the dynamic effect of a pictorial composition and musical rhythms, geometric constructions and musical lines or forms, textures and timbres, colors and sounds. Instrumental musical excerpts are selected according to their emotional content and on the basis of the Geneva Emotional Music Scale model (GEMS): peacefulness, tenderness, wonder, joyful activation, tension, nostalgia, power, transcendence and sadness. The images are classified into three categories: landscape, people and abstraction.

  • Mimicry This research, based on the theories of embodiment and mimicry, exploits the researches about mirror neurons and the evidence of a cortical specialization for musicians in the brain, to explore the relations between musical training, expressivity and muscles activation during perception. We tend to show that there are subtle activations in specific muscles for two groups of musicians in comparison to music experts and non-musicians when they listen to music. To test this we use audio stimuli of classical pieces played with three expressivity degrees and we record electromyography on selective muscles for the four experimental groups.

  • MP/Percu This research aims to address the impact of rhythms on music and their relationships with various affective and cognitive processes by using an interdisciplinary approach which combines subjective reports, autonomic measures, brain imaging and direct intracranial neuronal recordings. Firstly, the relationships between different musical rhythms and metaphors involving the body and gestures will be examined, mainly from a dynamic perspective. The main purpose is to test to what extent these rhythms are reliably correlated to body and gestural metaphors and how these verbal and cognitive representations are organized in the brain. Secondly, the embodiment hypothesis of metaphors and rhythms using brain imaging combined with body measures will be tested. The experiment will determine how the different musical rhythms induce invariant metaphors and how significantly the brain activity related to pre-motor and motor areas in the basal ganglia increases. Lastly, the manner in which the neuronal activity is correlated to the different rhythms within the motor areas of the internal globus pallidus (GPi) and the subthalamic nucleus (STN) will be examined. The main purpose of this part is to test entrainment phenomena at a neuronal level using local field potential measures in humans. In partnership with le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Rennes (CHU), Prof. Marc Vérin.

  • Ter/LP This research was established after a collaboration with the Quartetto di Cremona in the European project SIEMPRE. The purpose of this experiment is to investigate the impact of the modulation of the musical expressiveness on people. A thermographic camera will be used to detect extremely small changes in human facial temperature, a sign of emotional response, against different modes of emotional expressiveness. In parallel, this experiment studies the dynamic judgments of emotions expressed by music in the context of live performances.This experiment is conducted with the invaluable collaboration of the Terpsycordes quartet.

  • Ve2 and V3 The goal was to study the impacts induced by the conditions of the artistic performance. Immersive virtual reality allows combined approaches and systemic analysis on behavioral, physiological and cerebral aspects. Our system includes a 3D visual immersion, several modules capable of simulating movements and varying the auditory feedback, and an olfactometric system which stimulates the sense of smell. Virtual immersion enables researchers to develop projects to re-educate or rehabilitate participants by exposing them to scenes which generate or evoke difficulties they experience in different activities. These projects provide training and lead to cognitive and/or affective improvements. The goal of this research is to systematically study the impacts induced by the conditions of the artistic performance. These conditions are controlled by virtual reality and may represent performance spaces of varying sizes (e.g. concert hall) or a more or less receptive audience. A detailed analysis of musical gesture through a motion capture system helps to characterize such contextual impacts.

  • Visual A study and examination of visual and spatial metaphors associated with musical spaces. Critical examination of their suggestive powers and their relevance to represent musical phenomena.