Pianists duet better when they play with themselves

P Keller, Gunther Knoblich, BH Repp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

154 Citations (Scopus)


Ensemble musicians play in synchrony despite expressively motivated irregularities in timing. We hypothesized that synchrony is achieved by each performer internally simulating the concurrent actions of other ensemble members, relying initially on how they would perform in their stead. Hence, musicians should be better at synchronizing with recordings of their own earlier performances than with others' recordings. We required pianists to record one part from each of several piano duets, and later to play the complementary part in synchrony with their own or others' recordings. The pianists were also asked to identify their own recordings. The pianists were better at synchronizing with their own than with others' performances, and they were able to recognize their own recordings. Furthermore, synchronization accuracy and recognition were correlated: Pianists who were relatively accurate at synchronizing with their own performances were also good at recognizing them. Thus, action simulation may underlie both synchronization and self-recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007


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