Rebecca Morelle writes:

Scientists have come up with a way to reveal the pecking order within a string quartet. A team from the Royal Academy of Music and the University of Birmingham found that analysing how individual musicians vary their timing to follow the rest of the group can indicate a hierarchy.

They say it shows some quartets have a clear leader to ensure perfect harmony. However, in other "democratic" quartets the musicians all follow each other, playing an equal role. Prof Alan Wing, from the University of Birmingham, UK, said of the study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface: "In one quartet, it was as if there was an autocracy. In the other, it was more like a ............

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