What is it about?

Musicians sometimes experience being in a “zone of magic”: in the process of becoming fully absorbed in an activity, one seems to forget all the cares of the day, and may even experience a distortion of time. This “zone of magic”, or “flow”, as felt by musicians in groups, is examined in this literature review. What is the relationship between the individual and collective flow experience, and how is the collective flow experience connected to musical processes?

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Why is it important?

In contrast to individual flow, collective flow as a distinct construct has been less extensively theorised, especially in the area of music performance, composition or listening. We used the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) method to conduct a systematic literature review to obtain an overview of the current state of research on collective flow. We hope that the review will highlight the current status of research in this area, especially in musical contexts, and chart further directions for flow research in music contexts.

Perspectives

We believe that studying collective flow can yield meaningful perspectives that resonate strongly with the work of musicians. Individual contributions becoming part of a greater, synergistic whole is part of the process of being an ensemble musician. We hope musicians can find higher levels of ensemble performance through the lens of collective flow, and experience their own "zone of magic".

Kenneth Tay

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This page is a summary of: A PRISMA review of collective flow experiences in music contexts, Psychology of Music, October 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0305735619873389.
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