Meter as a Kind of Attentional Behavior

Justin London

in Hearing in Time

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195160819
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199786763 | DOI:
Meter as a Kind of Attentional Behavior

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Meter is defined as musically-specific form of entrainment, the synchronization of attention and/or other behaviors (especially motor behaviors) with periodic rhythms in the environment. This synchronization leads us to expect events at certain times, and thus shapes the perception of those events. Metric events, such as beats and downbeats, are periodic peaks of attention. These periodicities are organized into metric hierarchies that coordinate attention to events on various time-scales. These hierarchies, in turn, affect the way we group a series of notes into a rhythmic figure, as well as how we hear certain notes as accented or unaccented.

Keywords: entrainment; attention; expectation; grouping; accent; metric hierarchy

Chapter.  7287 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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