to light up the dance floor, turn up the bass

Picture photo dans une boîte de nuit in Saint-Jean-de-Monts en France en juillet 2021

Photo of painting dans une boîte de nuit in Saint-Jean-de-Monts en France en juillet 2021.

Lovers of electronic music know the drill: as soon as the DJ turns on the bass, the crowd moves quickly and dances with increasing enthusiasm. But to what extent is this conscious reaction?

Researchers have looked more closely at the relationship between bass frequencies and dancing, thanks to tests done during a real electronic music concert.

The results, published Monday in the journal Current biologyshowed that the participants danced almost 12 percent more when the researchers introduced very low bass – which the dancers could not hear.

“They couldn’t tell when that change happened, but it was driving their movements,” neuroscientist David Cameron of McMaster University, who led the study, told AFP.

The results confirm a special relationship between bass and dance, which has never been scientifically proven.

The speed of music

Cameron, a professional drummer, says that people who go to electronic music concerts “like when they hear the bass strong” and tend to turn it up very high.

But they are not alone.

In many cultures and traditions around the world “it tends to be low-frequency instruments like the bass guitar or the bass drum, which gives the musical pulse” that makes people move.

“What we didn’t know was, can you really make people dance more with bass?” said Cameron.

The experiment took place in Canada, in a building known as LIVElab, which served as a concert hall and research lab.

About 60 of the 130 people who saw a concert by the electronic music duo Orphyx were equipped with motion-sensitive headbands to monitor their dance moves.

During the concert, the researchers turned on and off the low-frequency bass speakers.

A questionnaire filled out by concertgoers confirmed that the sound was invisible. This allowed the researchers to isolate the impact of the bass and avoid other factors, such as dancers responding to the popular part of the song.

Below the level of consciousness

Cameron says: “I was blown away by the results.

His theory is that even when it cannot be seen, the bass stimulates sensory systems in the body, such as the skin and the vestibular system—better known as the inner ear.

These processes have a very close connection to the motor system – it is responsible for movement – but in an intuitive way that goes beyond the frontal cortex.

He compares it to how the body keeps the lungs breathing and the heart beating.

“It’s below the level of understanding.”

Cameron said the research team believes that the stimulation of these systems “gives less energy to your motor system. And that adds less energy and power to your real-world movements.”

He hopes to confirm this hypothesis in future experiments.

As to why people dance at all, the mystery remains.

“I’ve always been interested in rhythm, especially the rhythm that makes us want to move,” the lack of specific dance work.

Many theories revolve around the concept of social cohesion.

“When you connect with people, you tend to feel more connected afterwards. You feel better afterwards,” Cameron said.

“By making music together, it allows us to feel better together as a group, and then we can work better as a group, and we can work better, and we can be more peaceful.”

More information:
Daniel J. Cameron, Unobtainable low-frequency sound enhances dancing in live concert, Current biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.09.035. … 0960-9822(22)01535-4

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Science confirms: light up the dance floor, turn up the bass (2022, November 8) Retrieved November 8, 2022 from

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