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Mental representations for musical meter

Author(s): Krumhansl, C. L.

Journal/Book: J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1990; 16: 728-41.

Abstract: Investigations of the psychological representation for musical meter provided evidence for an internalized hierarchy from 3 sources: frequency distributions in musical compositions, goodness-of-fit judgments of temporal patterns in metrical contexts, and memory confusions in discrimination judgments. The frequency with which musical events occurred in different temporal locations differentiates one meter from another and coincides with music-theoretic predictions of accent placement. Goodness-of-fit judgments for events presented in metrical contexts indicated a multileveled hierarchy of relative accent strength, with finer differentiation among hierarchical levels by musically experienced than inexperienced listeners. Memory confusions of temporal patterns in a discrimination task were characterized by the same hierarchy of inferred accent strength. These findings suggest mental representations for structural regularities underlying musical meter that influence perceiving, remembering, and composing music.

Keyword(s): Psychoacoustics ; Recall Attention ; Music ; Pitch Discrimination; Time Perception Human; Support, Non U.S. Gov't; Support, U.S. Gov't, Non P.H.S.; Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

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