The Ensemble Project explores what makes a musical performance emotionally powerful. 





Indre Viskontas, Principle Investigator
Adam Isaak, Media Director



Musicians who make music as a group strive to play ‘in sync’: to connect with each other so that they can connect with the audience. Some people call this ‘groove’ and argue that it’s one of the most important features of effective music. Without groove, a performance feels static and leaves the audience emotionally flat.

Led by neuroscientist and opera singer Dr. Indre Viskontas, the multi-faceted project is designed to understand how musicians can become in sync. Combining science to extract general principles and art to explore the subjective experience, the goal of this project is to illuminate what is universal in our relationship with music, particularly when it leads to a greater sense of connection with others. This project is generously sponsored by the Germanacos Foundation through a grant to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


What we’ve accomplished:



We conducted a large scale survey of the impact of a live performance on an audience's willingness to support musicians financially. Results were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition in  2015. 



We are continuing to gather data on what elements of a musical performance move audiences the most. These surveys are publicly available. 



We launched the podcast Cadence: what music tells us about the mind to disseminate our findings to a wider audience and to explore more topics. Check it out.