At the beginning of the semester, we discussed findings from experimental studies that were consistent with the existence of a preferred tempo or maximal pulse salience zone around 100 bpm (600 ms), i.e., a rate around which participants spontaneously tap and at which participants’ performance on tapping and detection tasks tends to be better. While some of the studies that reported these findings did involve “real” music as source materials for lab stimuli, most did not. Furthermore, most studies focus on a single pulse level (beat or tactus) and map this pulse level on a theoretical model that presuppose a metric hierachy.
Martens’s (2011) and London’s (2011) studies offer a somewhat contrasting account of pulse perception that, at the very least, calls for some qualification of these earlier findings. How do these two studies relate to one another? How do their findings converge or diverge? And what might be some of the implications of these findings for a theory of tempo perception (and meter)? And how does this week’s focus article on the “swing ratio” (Honing & de Haas, 2008) inform this issue?
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