Pragmatics and rhythmic synchrony

The role of rhythm in facilitating sense-making in human communication lies in research findings that information transfer is managed with prosodic and rhythmically synchronized qualities of body and voice in human interaction.

The findings came from two early studies, one on collaborative sketching (Gill et al. 2000; Gill and Borchers 2004) and the other comparing non-face-to-face synchrony in two cultures, with participants speaking in Japanese and in English (Gill and Kawamori 2002). The sketching study revealed salient rhythms in body and speech that are akin to conversation moves (e.g. acknowledging and checking understanding) and backchannels (e.g. uh huh, ok, ref). In contrast to conversation moves, these rhythms are collectively performed across the participants, and they are coupled. The cultural comparative study indicated a relation between self-synchrony and self-with-other synchrony (Gill et al. Op. cit.) as a necessary part of the communication.