Chapter

Research on Temporal Perception and its Relevance for Theories of Musical Meter

Justin London

in Hearing in Time

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195160819
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199786763 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195160819.003.0003
Research on Temporal Perception and its Relevance for Theories of Musical Meter

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The “speed limits” for meter are explored, as elucidated by previous research on rhythmic perception, production, and discrimination. This includes studies of subjective rhythmization, melody recognition, rhythmic production, and the psychological present. Metric Entrainment can only occur with periodicities in range from (approximately) 100ms to 5-6 seconds. Within this range, we may grasp a sense of beat (also known as pulse or tactus) in a sub-range of 200-250ms to about 1.5 seconds (240-40 beats/minute), and we prefer to hear beats in the range of 500-700ms (120-86 beats/minute). Thus, very rapid periodicities are almost automatically heard as subdivisions of a slower beat. As the tempo of a melody or rhythm changes, there may be changes in the perception of the perceived beat, as these limits give rise to floor and ceiling effects for rhythmic perception and cognition.

Keywords: beat; pulse; tactus; tempo; beat subdivisions

Chapter.  8018 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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