Research Topic

Social Convergence in Times of Spatial Distancing: The Role of Music During the COVID-19 Pandemic

About this Research Topic

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine and spatial distancing measures resulting from it had severe consequences for individuals, societies, the economy, and public life all around the globe. It also affected the ways in which people engage with music: While live performances were no longer possible, creative outbursts from professional musicians and the general public spread ‘virally’. Fun and thought-provoking videos proliferated under popular hashtags such as #coronasongs, #quarantunes, and #songsofcomfort while leading opera houses, symphony orchestras, bands, and concert venues innovated new formats for sharing recordings and live streams on digital platforms. Be it singing together from balconies, watching live streams on social media or composing corona songs, many of these new forms and repertoires bore witness to an underlying conviction about music’s ability to create and maintain social bonds, to show gratitude, to promote public health, and to escape from anxiety, boredom, loneliness, stress, and uncertainty about the future. Although music seems to have cross-culturally universal psychological functions, it is conceptualized and practiced very differently across cultures. The global use of music to fight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, calls for scientific discussion backed up by high-quality, empirical research endeavors on the interactions between psychological mechanisms and cultural contexts.

This Research Topic invites academics from all disciplinary backgrounds to join forces to document, investigate, and understand the multitude of ways that music has been used and experienced during the coronavirus crisis. The global pandemic provides a unique opportunity for ecologically valid observations, large-scale surveys, and controlled experiments on the effects of a generally threatening and destabilizing situation and social quarantine on human musical behavior within and between cultures. This may, for example, allow researchers to test prominent theories on the evolutionary origins of music, such as:

• Music as a biotechnology of group formation;
• Music as a social surrogate whereby nostalgia or memories of close relatives are evoked;
• Music as an emotional coping strategy for troubling times.

Also, new contributions to the long-lasting debate about the universality vs. cultural specificity of musical effects can be expected. Indeed, the musical pandemic of 2020 may have relied on ingrained cognitive mechanisms to fulfill the biological need for social convergence in times of culturally imposed spatial distancing.

As the world was much less interconnected during previous wars and pandemics on this scale, the knowledge gained is likely to be novel and cutting-edge. Discoveries from this Research Topic may help equip societies for future challenges. Further they may have wide-ranging long-term implications spanning from basic research on evolutionary musicology to applied research developing clinical interventions and therapeutic best practices for tackling loneliness and social isolation in health, wellbeing, and other domains within psychology.

We are convinced that such a multi-faceted Topic can only be successfully understood if all branches of music research come together. Therefore, contributions are invited from music psychologists, music neuroscientists, music sociologists, ethnomusicologists, historical musicologists, music theorists, music therapists, musical data scientists, and other research professionals studying music-related aspects of health and wellbeing. A diverse range of methodological approaches are welcomed, including quantitative research employing traditional behavioral and neuroimaging methods, more qualitatively oriented research employing, for example, interview and survey methods and ethnographic fieldwork, and further studies including corpus statistics, sentiment analysis, natural language processing, and music information retrieval tools. Submissions will be accepted under the following article types: Original Research, Hypothesis and Theory, Review, Mini Review, Registered Report, Brief Research Report, Community Case Study, Methods, Data Report, Perspective, Conceptual Analysis, and Opinion.

While we would welcome and encourage the submission of an abstract prior to submission, please note that this is not mandatory. The "manuscript deadline" as outlined on this page is the date by when we would expect a full manuscript submission.

***Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation, Frontiers is waiving all article publishing charges for COVID-19 related research in this Research Topic.***


Keywords: Music, arts, emotion, community, resilience, cohesion, social surrogacy, therapy, health psychology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine and spatial distancing measures resulting from it had severe consequences for individuals, societies, the economy, and public life all around the globe. It also affected the ways in which people engage with music: While live performances were no longer possible, creative outbursts from professional musicians and the general public spread ‘virally’. Fun and thought-provoking videos proliferated under popular hashtags such as #coronasongs, #quarantunes, and #songsofcomfort while leading opera houses, symphony orchestras, bands, and concert venues innovated new formats for sharing recordings and live streams on digital platforms. Be it singing together from balconies, watching live streams on social media or composing corona songs, many of these new forms and repertoires bore witness to an underlying conviction about music’s ability to create and maintain social bonds, to show gratitude, to promote public health, and to escape from anxiety, boredom, loneliness, stress, and uncertainty about the future. Although music seems to have cross-culturally universal psychological functions, it is conceptualized and practiced very differently across cultures. The global use of music to fight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, calls for scientific discussion backed up by high-quality, empirical research endeavors on the interactions between psychological mechanisms and cultural contexts.

This Research Topic invites academics from all disciplinary backgrounds to join forces to document, investigate, and understand the multitude of ways that music has been used and experienced during the coronavirus crisis. The global pandemic provides a unique opportunity for ecologically valid observations, large-scale surveys, and controlled experiments on the effects of a generally threatening and destabilizing situation and social quarantine on human musical behavior within and between cultures. This may, for example, allow researchers to test prominent theories on the evolutionary origins of music, such as:

• Music as a biotechnology of group formation;
• Music as a social surrogate whereby nostalgia or memories of close relatives are evoked;
• Music as an emotional coping strategy for troubling times.

Also, new contributions to the long-lasting debate about the universality vs. cultural specificity of musical effects can be expected. Indeed, the musical pandemic of 2020 may have relied on ingrained cognitive mechanisms to fulfill the biological need for social convergence in times of culturally imposed spatial distancing.

As the world was much less interconnected during previous wars and pandemics on this scale, the knowledge gained is likely to be novel and cutting-edge. Discoveries from this Research Topic may help equip societies for future challenges. Further they may have wide-ranging long-term implications spanning from basic research on evolutionary musicology to applied research developing clinical interventions and therapeutic best practices for tackling loneliness and social isolation in health, wellbeing, and other domains within psychology.

We are convinced that such a multi-faceted Topic can only be successfully understood if all branches of music research come together. Therefore, contributions are invited from music psychologists, music neuroscientists, music sociologists, ethnomusicologists, historical musicologists, music theorists, music therapists, musical data scientists, and other research professionals studying music-related aspects of health and wellbeing. A diverse range of methodological approaches are welcomed, including quantitative research employing traditional behavioral and neuroimaging methods, more qualitatively oriented research employing, for example, interview and survey methods and ethnographic fieldwork, and further studies including corpus statistics, sentiment analysis, natural language processing, and music information retrieval tools. Submissions will be accepted under the following article types: Original Research, Hypothesis and Theory, Review, Mini Review, Registered Report, Brief Research Report, Community Case Study, Methods, Data Report, Perspective, Conceptual Analysis, and Opinion.

While we would welcome and encourage the submission of an abstract prior to submission, please note that this is not mandatory. The "manuscript deadline" as outlined on this page is the date by when we would expect a full manuscript submission.

***Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation, Frontiers is waiving all article publishing charges for COVID-19 related research in this Research Topic.***


Keywords: Music, arts, emotion, community, resilience, cohesion, social surrogacy, therapy, health psychology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 September 2020 Abstract
01 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 September 2020 Abstract
01 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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