German and Austrian researchers analysed what happened to pianist Armin Fuchs when he spent more than a full day playing over and over again, nonstop, an oddly-named piece of music by a French composer. They also analysed what happened to the music. This was a tour de force of artistic and neurological repetition.
The research team – Christine Kohlmetz, Reinhard Kopiez and Marc Bangert of the Hanover University of Music and Drama, and Werner Goebl and Eckart Altenmuller of the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in Vienna – published a pair of monographs in 2003 describing what they measured in the pianist.
The study titles, like the performance, are lengthy. One, in the journal Psychology of Music, includes the phrase “Electrocortical Activity in a Pianist Playing ‘Vexations’ by Erik Satie Continuously for 28 Hours“…
So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.