Harmonic accents in inference of metrical structure and perception of rhythm patterns
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Research on rhythmic structure is somewhat fragmented, due in part to differential use of terminology and a lack of research on the timing of harmonic accents. In this study, a harmonic and a temporal accent were pitted against each other in such a way as to form different rhythm patterns. In addition, two harmonic conditions that varied in the frequency of chord presentations (i.e., the composite rhythm) but not in the frequency of chord changes (i.e., the harmonic rhythm) were presented. Musicians and nonmusicians were requested to report perceived rhythm patterns in an attempt to determine the relative salience of the harmonic and temporal accents. In addition, a behavioral measure of the perceived meter was taken. Results indicated that the location of chord changes was the main determinant of subjects' rhythmic perceptions and the perceived onset of a measure. Furthermore, although subjects primarily inferred different meters based on the composite rhythm, an interaction of metrical and rhythmic choices was found, indicating that perception of rhythm patterns and inference of metrical structure may not always be independent.
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