Much ink has been spilt on pitch-based categories in music: pitches within specific tuning systems or absolute pitch classifications, dissonance vs. consonance categories, categorical divisions based on scales or chords, schemata based on pitch and harmony patterns. However, categorical perception is also largely important in our perception of temporal parameters. A crucial example is the perception of microtiming. But, how does formation of categories affect our perception of larger time spans: themes, form, or even meter? Are certain formal spans dependent on a temporal dimension (i.e. does a sentence or period DEPEND on its length or can we define the category without a temporal parameter)? Are these temporal dimensions merely conventions arising from the style or genre (i.e. periods as 8 measures within a classical style) or are they due to underlying psychological causes such as cognitive limits? Why is it that, within a classical period or sentence, we tend to hear symmetrical spans – are asymmetrical spans really that unnatural for perception or was symmetry merely a cultural construct?
While many questions arise from this brainstorming, I am ultimately interested in how these mental precepts arise and how they guide our processing of music (preferably during online listening).
Possible starting point: Using established schemata (Gjerdingen?) as temporal stimuli and investigating perception of said percepts with modulations on the temporal domain. Can we perceive these schemata with metrical/rhythmic disparities? Are the temporal parameters vital in the definition of these schemata? (<—I see this more as a pilot study).