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What is it about the rhythms of some music that makes us want to get up and dance? Oxford University researchers believe they may have found part of the answer in a new study.

They say that an ideal balance of rhythmic predictability and complexity explains why James Brown will get most people up and grooving, while many of us struggle to tap our feet along with experimental jazz.

The researchers from Oxford University and the University of Aarhus in Denmark were interested in understanding how the structure of the music affects our desire to dance. They set up an online survey to investigate the role of rhythm in generating pleasure and body movement.

'Many people find themselves unable to resist moving their bodies to the beat of hip-hop, electronic, or funk music, but may feel less desire to dance when listening to a highly syncopated type of music, like free jazz,' says Dr Maria Witek, who carried out the study as part of her DPhil studies at Oxford University, along with neuroscientist Professor Morten Kringelbach and Professor of Music Eric Clarke. She is now at Aarhus University in Denmark.

See also the original paper at PLOS One.

*People Like Their Music Served Medium Funky *
Wired magazine, Helen Shen, 16/04/2014

*Scientists discover optimum beat to make people dance*
BBC News online, Unattributed, 18 April 2014

*The beat goes on ... but will they dance?*
Ottawa Citizen (Canada), Tom Spears, 17/04/2014

*Scientists Think They've Found What Makes Us Get On To The Dance Floor*
Business Insider Australia, Chris Pash, 17/04/2014

*Science Got the Funk. Got to Have the Funk.*
Forbes online (USA), 17/04/2014, Elizabeth Lopatto

*Radio: Phil Gayle and Friends, BBC Radio Oxford*
17/04/2014, 06:05, 07:55, 08:20, 08:50

*Oxford researchers discover music beats that make us want to get up and

Examiner online (USA), 18/04/2014, Tima Vlasto

*Radio: Malcolm Boyden, BBC Radio Oxford*
17/04/2014, 10:02, 12:03, 12:39

*Radio: 5 Live Drive, BBC Radio 5*
17/04/2014, 18:58

*Research finds perfect rhythm*
Oxford Mail, 18/04/2014, p.19

You can listen to the grooves and participate in a new survey here:

You can read the full paper here:

You can find more information about the research of the authors here: <>


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