Bass, Movement and Groove—A sound study

by Anna Schwartz

Anna Schwartz and members of the DAPpers class

Anna Schwartz and members of the DAPpers class

In previous studies conducted by Dr. Michael J. Hove PhD, evidence was found to support the idea that the bass frequency of music is connected to the movement timing of dancers, the movement induction of listeners as well as the quality of timing cues. This spring, a new study was conducted with participants from the DAPpers class in order to determine whether these findings have any clinical benefits for those who use dance as a method of relief from the symptoms associated with neurodegenerative movement disorders. Specifically, we investigated whether songs with more bass promote movement in patients with Parkinson’s disease more than songs with less bass.

In order to address this research question, a variety of songs were manipulated according to the frequency of the bass so that some music melodies had a greater bass frequency and some music melodies had a lesser bass frequency. Each song was presented twice to the DAPpers class throughout the course of four sessions, and as participants danced to the music, their movements were looked at using an accelerometer app attached to their arm with an armband. After dancing to each song, participants completed rating questions about their enjoyment and emotion connected to the song, as well as their ability to move to and find the beat.

Both quantitative and qualitative data were gathered to explore the idea that movement induction may be connected to the bass frequency of songs. Findings of this study may have implications for clinical dance and movement therapy classes with patients with Parkinson’s disease. We hope that through this work, we will optimize song selections for classes such as the DAPpers class so that dancers can have the most fulfilling, rewarding, and beneficial dance experience that will drive both physical and emotional healing for this community.