Music – Research – Live Coding

Recent Posts

I spoke with journalist Elisabeth Sherman about the research into music’s beneficial and detrimental effects on concentration.


Tune in to BBC radio 3 on May 20th 5pm to hear me speak to Tom Service about affective and embodied responses to syncopated music.


Recent & Upcoming Talks

Feeling at one: Socio-affective distribution and vibe in electronic dance music
Jul 8, 2020 5:00 PM
The mind is a DJ: Entrainment in beatmatching and embodied neuroscience
Sep 26, 2019 3:00 PM
The mind is a DJ: Entrainment in beatmatching and embodied neuroscience
Jun 11, 2019 10:00 AM
Musical groove: Pleasure, movement and embodied neuroscience
Apr 10, 2019 3:30 PM
Musical groove: Effects on pleasure, body-movement and the brain
Dec 8, 2018 10:00 AM
Extended Mind, Vibe and Dance Music Consciousness
Apr 22, 2018 3:00 PM

Recent Publications

More Publications

. Cultural familiarity and individual musical taste different affect social bonding when moving to music. In Sci Rep, 2020.


. The sensation of groove engages motor and reward networks. In NeuroImage, 2020.


. A critical cross-cultural study of sensorimotor and groove responses to syncopation among Ghanaian and American university students and staff. In Music Percept, 2020.


. The sensation of groove is affected by the interaction of rhythmic and harmonic complexity. In PLoS ONE, 2019.


. Now you hear it: a predictive coding model for understanding rhythmic incongruity. In NYAS, 2018.


. Syncopation affects free body‑movement in musical groove. In EXBR, 2017.


. Oxytocin improves synchronisation in leader-follower interaction. In Sci Rep, 2016.


Selected Publications

The sensation of groove has been defined as the pleasurable desire to move to music, suggesting that both motor timing and reward processes are involved in this experience. Although many studies have investigated rhythmic timing and musical reward separately, none have examined whether the associated cortical and subcortical networks are engaged while participants listen to groove-based music. In the current study, musicians and non-musicians listened to and rated experimentally controlled groove-based stimuli while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Medium complexity rhythms elicited higher ratings of pleasure and wanting to move and were associated with activity in regions linked to beat perception and reward, as well as prefrontal and parietal regions implicated in generating and updating stimuli-based expectations. Activity in basal ganglia regions of interest, including the nucleus accumbens, caudate and putamen, was associated with ratings of pleasure and wanting to move, supporting their important role in the sensation of groove. We propose a model in which different cortico-striatal circuits interact to support the mechanisms underlying groove, including internal generation of the beat, beat-based expectations, and expectation-based affect. These results show that the sensation of groove is supported by motor and reward networks in the brain and, along with our proposed model, suggest that the basal ganglia are crucial nodes in networks that interact to generate this powerful response to music.
In NeuroImage, 2020

The pleasurable desire to move to a beat is known as groove and is partly explained by rhythmic syncopation. While many contemporary groove-directed genres originated in the African diaspora, groove music psychology has almost exclusively studied European or North American listeners. While cross-cultural approaches can help us understand how different populations respond to music, comparing African and Western musical behaviors has historically tended to rely on stereotypes. Here we report on two studies in which sensorimotor and groove responses to syncopation were measured in university students and staff from Cape Coast, Ghana and Williamstown, MA, United States. In our experimental designs and interpretations, we show sensitivity towards the ethical implications of doing cross-cultural research in an African context. The Ghanaian group showed greater synchronization precision than Americans during monophonic syncopated patterns, but this was not reflected in synchronization accuracy. There was no significant group difference in the pleasurable desire to move. Our results have implications for how we understand the relationship between exposure and synchronization, and how we define syncopation in cultural and musical contexts. We hope our critical approach to cross-cultural comparison contributes to developing music psychology into a more inclusive and culturally grounded field.
In Music Percept, 2020

In this chapter, the embodied consciousness of clubbing and raving is considered through the theory of extended mind, according to which the mind is a distributed system where brain, body, and environment play equal parts. Building on the idea of music as affective atmosphere, a case is made for considering the vibe of a dance party as cognitively, socially, and affectively distributed. The chapter suggests that participating in the vibe affords primary musical consciousness—a kind of pre-reflexive state characterized by affective and bodily knowledge—and speculates about the neural correlates of clubbing and raving by means of an analogy with brain research on psychedelic states.
In Music and Consciousness II, 2019

Live Coding

New SoundCloud

Bad Circulation (our new name!) now has a SoundCloud

VR Algorave at Network Music Festival

Live coding performance at Network Music Festival VR Algorave, July 2020

Eulerroom Equinox Live Stream

Live coding performance for the Eulerroom Equinox Live Stream, March 2020

Coventry Algorave

Live coding performance at the Coventry Algorave July 2019

ICLC Algorave Limerick

Live coding performance at the International Conference for Live Coding (ICLC) Algorave, in Limerick, Ireland, 2020


  • m.a.g.witek at
  • Room 106, Ashley Building, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT, Birmingham, UK
  • email for appointment