Focus of alignment and performance accuracy among wind band musicians in situations of audio-visual asynchrony
Ensemble musicians must navigate a complex sensory environment to produce cohesive performances. The purpose of this study was to examine pulse alignment among performers of different experience levels facing increasingly asynchronous auditory and visual information. Musicians (N = 51) who were current members of large instrumental ensembles watched a video of a conductor outlining a 4/4 pattern while hearing a multivoiced instrumental ensemble soundtrack and were asked to tap the pulse on a tablet-based pad. Each of nine examples was presented in one of three experimental formats: control (steady audio and video), audio (ensemble) accelerating/video (conductor beat pattern) decelerating, and video accelerating/audio decelerating. Rate of pulse change was ±7.5% with initial tempos of 108, 127, and 146 bpm. Data consisted of (1) deviations (ms) from a consistent IOI (steady pulse) and (2) mean deviations from audio (ensemble) or video (conductor) pulse. In the asynchronous conditions, participants broadly adhered to auditory or visual information rather than to a steady rate of pulse. There was no significant difference between information stream preference. Experience was a significant factor in audio information deviations; more experienced performers found audio information to be a more salient reference point, consistent with results reported for less contextualized timekeeping tasks.