Moving in time, for example in chanting, facilitates positive emotional states (Swaine 2004), and research on improvisation with young children (Rabinowitch et al. 2011) shows how when they move in time, and this facilitates their positive feelings towards each other. Work on memory shows that mutual synchrony has an impact on memory for aspects of people we are communicatively engaged with (Macrae et al. 2008; Woolhouse and Tidhar 2010). And at the social level, our capacity to share goals with those we are communicating with involves rhythmic mutual synchrony. Kirschner and Tomasello (2009, 2010) show that when children as young as two and half years old move to an external audio beat that is produced by another human, e.g. when they are drumming with another person, they are socially motivated to joint, entrained, movement. Entrainment facilitates social bonding.
Research on rhythm in both music and language supports Bispham’s finding that rhythm in music consists of a constellation of partially shared and partially specific abilities with rhythm in language and his proposal that the study of rhythm needs to be positioned within a wider framework of human cognition and behaviour. The discussion in this paper seeks to develop this wider framework of rhythm in embodied interaction.