- Researchers at McMaster University in Canada applied removable headbands to viewers to determine which musical cues prompted them to dance.
- With the addition of low-bass speakers, the concert-gore performance increased by 12 percent.
- Very low frequency sounds are perceived by the inner ear as vibrations, which are closely related to balance, rhythm and motor system. Researchers suspect that this connection is what motivates people to dance.
Good news for DJs all over the world. Scientists have found a safe way to make people dance. Interestingly, this has nothing to do with sounds like repetitive guitar licks or killer drum solos. Instead, according to new research published in the journal Current Biology , people dance more in the presence of very deep low frequencies, which are inaudible to the human ear.
"I trained as a drummer, and most of my research has focused on the rhythmic aspects of music and what makes us move," said Daniel Cameron, a neuroscientist at McMaster University in Canada and lead author of the study. At a press conference. "Music is a biological curiosity. It doesn't reproduce, feed or protect us, so why do people like it and why do they like to go through it?"
To answer that last question, Cameron and his colleagues turned to McMaster's LIVElab, a 106-seat research theater with traditional audio capabilities and science lab equipment. They recruited study participants who attended a 45-minute LIVElab performance by Orphx, an electronic dance music (EDM) duo.
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"Stimulating these non-auditory mechanisms in a musical context can enhance groove appreciation," they wrote in the study.
Pursuing this concept provides direction for future research, Cameron said. "Determining the brain mechanisms involved requires investigating the effects of low frequency on vestibular, tactile, and auditory pathways."
As researchers continue to explore this avenue, one group of people in particular are definitely waiting for more answers. "The players participated enthusiastically," Cameron explained, "because they were attracted to the idea that the bass could change the mood of the music in a way that affected the movement."
Meanwhile, science seems to have some advice for anyone facing an empty dance floor: turn up the bass (low frequencies)!