Facing the music: investigating the psychophysiology of musical performance

Aufegger, L. and Wasley, D. and Williamon, A. (2016) Facing the music: investigating the psychophysiology of musical performance. In: Art in Motion III: Performing Under Pressure. Peter Lang, Frankfurt, pp. 77-92. ISBN 978-3-631-67172-6


Musicians often face intense cardiovascular and emotional demands while performing on stage. While these are commonly experienced physically by musicians during performance, relatively little systematic research has examined how they arise and dissipate in the periods before and after a stressful event, as well as their relationship to key psychological parameters that determine music performance anxiety. The first section of this chapter reviews the most recent research on applied performance physiology, particularly focusing on links with music performance anxiety. The second examines the possibilities of collecting, analysing and interpreting cardiovascular features, such as heart rate variability (HRV), in greater detail. Methodological considerations are raised in terms of time versus frequency domain analyses, while also offering new approaches to understanding biosignals. The last section considers new investigations of the type, frequency and duration of physical interventions designed to optimise performance outcomes.

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