Aarhus University Seal

Feel the bass: Music presented to tactile and auditory modalities increases aesthetic appreciation and body movement

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Michael J. Hove, Fitchburg State University
  • ,
  • Steven A. Martinez, Fitchburg State University
  • ,
  • Jan Stupacher
Music is both heard and felt-tactile sensation is especially pronounced for bass frequencies. Although bass frequencies have been associated with enhanced bodily movement, time perception, and groove (the musical quality that compels movement), the underlying mechanism remains unclear. In 2 experiments, we presented high-groove music to auditory and tactile senses and examined whether tactile sensation affected body movement and ratings of enjoyment and groove. In Experiment 1, participants (N = 22) sat in a parked car and listened to music clips over sound-isolating earphones (auditory-only condition), and over earphones plus a subwoofer that stimulated the body (auditory-tactile condition). Experiment 2 (N = 18) also presented music in auditory-only and auditory-tactile conditions, but used a vibrotactile backpack to stimulate the body and included 2 loudness levels. Participants tapped their finger with each clip, rated each clip, and, in Experiment 1, we additionally video recorded spontaneous body movement. Results showed that the auditory-tactile condition yielded more forceful tapping, more spontaneous body movement, and higher ratings of groove and enjoyment. Loudness had a small, but significant, effect on ratings. In sum, findings suggest that bass felt in the body produces a multimodal auditory-tactile percept that promotes movement through the close connection between tactile and motor systems. We discuss links to embodied aesthetics and applications of tactile stimulation to boost rhythmic movement and reduce hearing damage.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Pages (from-to)1137-1147
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Groove, Multisensory perception, Perception-action, Rhythm, Vibrotactile

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 171576358