Rhythm perception and differences in accent weights for musicians and nonmusicians
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In order to investigate the contribution of harmonic-temporal and structural features to the perception of musical rhythm, three experiments were conducted in which a harmonic and a temporal accent were pitted against each other in such a way as to form five possible patterns. In three experiments, the temporal structure of various chord progressions was manipulated in an effort to determine the harmonic contributions to the inference of meter. The final experiment differed from the first two in the use of nondiatonic progressions that implied an unlikely key modulation. In all experiments, musicians and nonmusicians were requested to report perceived rhythm patterns in an attempt to determine the relative salience of various accents. Results indicated that changes in the temporal structure led to predictable change in an inferred meter, and that all diatonic chord progressions led to similar patterns of responses in which coincidences of harmonic, temporal, and metrical accents were perceptually salient events. Unusual progressions implying key modulations resulted in a qualitatively distinct pattern of results, and, in all experiments, amount of formal musical training was found to be a good predictor of the use of harmonic cues.
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