©Satoshi Endo

This is an archived event

Professor Alan Wing

Musical Brainwaves


Professor Alan Wing Birmingham University, John Woolrich composer, Sacconi Quartet musicians

How do musicians communicate with each other, especially a foursome which spends a major part of its life together performing as a string quartet? By look and gesture certainly – but what’s going on in the brain?

Professor Alan Wing has been leading a small team at Birmingham University to find out. In what promises to be a fascinating insight into the workings of the musician’s brain, he’ll be presenting the results of his ongoing research. On hand to give practical demonstrations of what’s happening subconsciously, will be members of the Sacconi Quartet – who’ve been associated with the project from the beginning.

Musicians in a group performance are constantly making millisecond timing corrections to stay together. These adjustments can be measured to reveal the group's hierarchy: musicians who correct to others are seen to be followers, while those who let others correct to them are leaders. Professor Wing will show us examples of this on screen, with the players wired-up to computers and members of the quartet will give practical examples of how – having once fallen out of phase with each other – sychronicity is restored.

The composer John Woolrich has written the mini-quartets of The Book of Inventions (one of which will be performed by the Sacconi Quartet during their Festival concert this evening - see programme) in part as a test bed for this research. His views on whether or not what’s been revealed has influenced his compositional techniques in any way should prove of considerable interest.

For those attending the concert, what we learn at this session will undoubtedly mean we find ourselves listening to familiar - and perhaps not so familiar - quartets with fresh ears and a new understanding.

Alan Wing is Professor of Human Movement at Birmingham University’s School of Psychology. An important goal of his research is to understand how the brain uses sensory input to develop and maintain accurate representations (internal models) for adaptive planning and control of movement. When an action is imagined, there is a feeling of it taking place which has a distinct time course. It has been shown that the duration of imagined action is very similar to the corresponding real movement. Alan's Website


Sat 12 Oct 2019

Little Missenden Village Hall