Swing ratio

Dear classmates,

Please read Honing&deHaas 2008 in preparation for Thursday.


Check back soon for guiding questions. Have a great week!


Performance Analysis

I understand that everyone is very busy with midterm projects of various kinds, so I’ve chosen a relatively short article. This will give us a chance to delve into the details of the paper, so please do read it thoroughly. The article I’ve chosen also focuses on a specific musical example from the standard repertoire (Chopin’s Étude in E, Op. 10/3), which makes for a nice change of pace.

REPP, B. (1997). “The Timing Implications of Musical Structures”


This article makes the following claims: 1) musical structure in and of itself gives rise to constraints on expressive timing patterns; 2) these constraints give rise to normative timing profiles for expressive performance; 3) deviation from this norm requires cognitive effort (imagination)

Four pieces of evidence support these claims:
1) Statistical analysis of large samples of expressive performances reveals a remarkable similarity in timing profiles between two groups: a) professional pianists b) advanced students/amateur pianists
2) Inexpressive performances – expressive variations (of a very similar timing profile) were still present when pianists were asked to play without expression
3) When asked to detect variations in timing, subjects had the most trouble at moments where the music “dictates” that a timing variation take place; in other words, listeners expected to hear a specific timing pattern that deviated from absolute strictness
4) When asked to tap in synch with a metronomically timed Chopin excerpt, subjects still tapped in an expressive manner resembling the normative timing profile extracted from list item #1

1) Add to my summary, if you feel like something important is missing. The purpose is to provide a basic outline of the article.
2) What do you make of the following claim on p. 63? “Clearly, all these expressive ritardandos are related to the musical structure, particularly the melodic segmentation, though harmonic progression and metre may also contribute.”
3) In the third experiment, subjects had difficulty identifying variations where expressive lengthening was expected. How do these moments align with the metrical structure of the music? Do the results confirm or contradict what we might expect from the perspective of attentional energy?
4) On p. 63, Repp writes that “Deviation from this bland norm requires cognitive effort and imagination, whereas adherence to the norm merely requires musical competence.” In this statement, Repp takes a step toward defining true artistry in opposition to competent musicianship, paradoxically locating the former in deviations from what the music inherently tells us to do. What do you make of this?

What is “groove” and what does it have to do with “microtiming”?

In a landmark ethnomusicological and cross-stylistic study music ranging from jazz, blues, polka, soul, rock, world beat, rap, and karaoke, Keil and Feld (1995) propose that one of the important component of “groove” is “participatory discrepancies,” i.e., the small timing adjustments that are negotiated between performers engage in music making. For Keil, this performative aspect is inherent not only in the relationship of performer to performer, but also of each performer to “matter”: “There is no abstract time; all is mediated by a complex of variables inhering in matter—sticks tap metal, fingers pluck strings.” (Keil, 1995, abstract).

Microtiming and groove are two topics that have generated a sizeable number of empirical studies, ranging from measurement studies of human performance (e.g., Ashley, 2002), to correlational studies aimed at identifying the perceptual components of groove (e.g., Madison, 2006), to behavioral and modeling studies aimed at identifying specific musical parameters that influence the perception of groove (e.g., Madison, Gouyon, Ullén, & Hörnström, 2011). While each of these types of experiments can stand alone, studies that aim to define a particular phenomenon can benefit from combining different methods. For example, in “Sensorimotor coupling in music and the psychology of the groove” (2012), Janata, Tomic, and Haberman conduct a series of experiments, including (1) a survey in which participants had to rate statements about groove; (2) a listening experiment where participants had to rate the degree to which they felt musical excerpts of different tempi were groove-inducing; (3) a SMS study where participants were asked alternately to only listen and tap along the music (isochronous and free-form); and (4) a quantitative/modeling study of the degree of (a)synchrony between participants’ tapping and the musical beat structure.

Based on this body of work, what is “groove” and how does it relate (or not) to “microtiming” (and the “participatory discrepancies” theorized by Keil and Feld)? And how does the understanding of groove as represented by these articles compares with your experience of the phenomenon? Post a preliminary response to these specific questions by Tuesday, October 8, 11:59 PM.

Metric vs. Figural Hearing

Hi guys,

For next week, please read the Bamberger 1994 and the abstracts for Handel 1998 and Smith et al. 1994. Focus on the Bamberger’s opening areas (before the dialogue), and think about the implications of the results from the other experimental work.

Some questions to ask while you’re reading:

1) Reflect on what we think of when we speak of musical “knowledge”? Are there different types of musical knowledge? Is individual perspective important in “knowing” music? If so, how can we quantify musical knowledge, or should we even try?

2) On page 134, Bamberger states: “…it is because sound/time phenomena do not come already structured, but rather hold the potential for being structured that different hearings are possible.” What do you think about this statement? Does this imply the necessity for a human agent for something to be musical? Can non-musical sounds be structured? If music is based on inferred structures, can we ever arrive at objective knowledge about music (think about Bamberger’s later comments on metrical structure as objective and figural structure as subjective)? What are other implications for music-theoretic work that are brought about by this statement?

3) Further, Bamberger quotes Rosenfield: “We perceive the world without labels, and we can label it only when we have decided how its features should be organized.” While taking issue with what Rosenfield means by “decided”, Bamberger still requires some aspect of knowing for organization. Reflect on your thoughts about knowledge and questions about implicit versus explicit knowledge: Can we structure something, especially musical temporality, without knowing it? How do we come to know something (can we learn through passive exposure)? What would the “features” when referring to temporal parameters? Think about our past discussions on enculturation and training, and also embodied knowledge for music.

**Please bring up any other points, of course. I myself have only done a cursory reading up to now and will delve deeper this weekend! Just wanted to get something up in case people started working on this early…**

embodiment and (e)motion – assignment and leading questions

Hey folks,

For our discussion on “embodiment and (e)motion”, we’ll do one close reading, and one general. I’d like you to prepare the following:

1. (CLOSE READING) Read Phillips-Silver & Trainor (2007). Some guidance: closely read their definition of meter; decide whether they are trying to interpret ‘autonomous’ systems; see if you can pin-down what ‘auditory encoding’ is; debate whether their results (e.g., PDF p.8) suggest correlation or causality; ask whether you agree with their pithy last line; finally consider whether the study design(s) potentially involves some analysis/learning/conceptual mediation which would confound the putative direct connection between ‘movement’ and ‘listening’ – that is, might there not be some other process in between.

2. (GENERAL) Get a sense of the general tenor across the five articles (i.e., review the abstracts). Then read through Iyer (2002). What’s the point of this article? And please reflect on how important you think kinesthetic/physiological aspects are to your own theoretical work and thinking. We’ll try to talk through some perspectives.

In sum:

1. Read Phillips-Silver & Trainor (2007) closely.

2. Read Iyer (2002).

3. Read the five abstracts.

4. Post after the guidance per item 1.

– S P G

Attention, Entrainment, & Sensorimotor Synchronization

Mari Ries Jones’s “Dynamic Attentional Theory” (DAT) has become the predominant theoretical framework used in the investigation of beat and meter perception in psychological research (for a description of the research conducted at her Ohio State University lab, see http://labs.psy.ohio-state.edu/roar/; the website includes a few PowerPoint presentations by Jones). While this theory was first presented in her article “Time, Our Lost Dimension: Toward a New Theory of Perception, Attention, and Memory” (Jones, 1976), it was the marriage of DAT with Ed Large’s oscillator model (Large & Jones, 1999) that “sealed the deal” for metric entrainment. Up to that time, most studies took a “goodness-of-fit” approach, often relying on some form of internal clock model (e.g., Povel & Essens, 1985; Parncutt’s 1994 “perceptual model of pulse salience”).

One of the most compelling aspect of the metric entrainment model of beat perception is that it is a powerful explanatory model that not only makes sense intuitively (“moving along with the music” is one of the most basic musical behavior, and entrainment is an observable phenomenon in the natural environment), but is also compatible with sophisticated theories about the communication of musical meaning (e.g., Meyer’s and Narmour’s expectation-based theories). Thus, it is not surprising that it has been embraced by psychologically-minded music theories (as represented by London’s 2004 “Hearing in Time”). The concept of entrainment has also caught the attention of several ethnomusicologists whose research had been focused on performance and embodiment (e.g., Clayton’s study of Indian music).

Review Large and Jones’s (1999) theoretical exposition and the experimental study that follows. What aspects of this work do you find most/least compelling? How are the findings “consistent with” the hypotheses derived from this theory? What are some of the limitations of the experimental design? Then, skim through Clayton and colleagues (2005). How is the concept of entrainment defined here, and how does it conform/contrast with Large and Jones’s definition? What are some of applications of the concept to music research as envisioned by Clayton and colleagues? Thinking back to Large and Jones’s experimental design, can you imagine an alternative (or complementary) experimental design that might address some of the limitations you (or the researchers) identified?

Write a preliminary response by Tuesday, September 24, 11:59 PM; the response should focus on at least one of these questions, and connect the two articles.


Developmental and Cross-Cultural Issues

For this portion of next week’s discussion, please read the Hannon et al. (2012) “Effects of perceptual experience on children’s and adults’ perception of unfamiliar rhythms.”  If you have time, it would also be helpful to look at the other Hannon (2012) article “Familiarity over complexity,” as it has a different focus (more of the cross-cultural aspect than the developmental focus of the first article.)

After reading the article, think through some of these guiding questions and submit a short response (and feel free to bring up something that isn’t mentioned below).  It is more important to have at least given thought to the different perspectives on the paper than for each of these aspects to appear in the response.

–What questions do you have about the article and its methodology?  What, if any, doubts arose as you read the paper?
–What do you think of the concept of a “sensitive/critical period” in terms of rhythmic and cultural development and their relationship?  (Have you had any interaction with this concept before?)
–What are your experiences with nonisochronous music, either in everyday life or in your music theory study?  If you have had an academic interaction with this music, think about the intersection between these readings and those for the Expertise discussion, both with regards to differences in sensitivity depending on age and what the markers of this cultural sensitivity are (familiarity versus complexity.)


Expertise Group Discussion (9/26)

Hello all,

For next week’s discussion, it would be helpful if you at least skimmed the Rammsayer (2006) and the Geisert article (2010). Before you do that, however, think about this question: How has your time working as a professional musician changed how you interact with rhythms in the world, and how can you tell that your perceptions are different from those of your non-musically trained peers?

After you’ve read these readings, it’d be helpful for me to have a response so that I can see how much you already know about how expertise can change the cortex of the brain. For a response, it would be great if you wrote a (short) description of how the experiments differed, and why you think those differing methodologies each gave a different answer to a similar question. At the end of your response, I think it’s especially interesting to look at these from your own musical perspective, so please do also touch on how you may or may not have seen these results in real performance and practice.

Thanks, and I’ll see you in the next class!



Stephen’s “K…” or Caplin’s “H…”?

Very helpful to have an office and the Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (ed. Christensen, 2002) at the tip of my fingers. Here is Phillipp Kirnberger (1721-1783), cited by Caplin:

“it is necessarily required that such a series of [undifferentiated] tones group themselves into units of equal length… These equally long and equally shaped units now constitute what one calls meter in music… It is also necessary to have accents, because without them the ear would have no cause to group the series of tones into equally formed units.” (668)

Although, I thought that what Stephen might have been remembering, and what Longuet-Higgins and Lee (1982) referred to as “isochronous continuation,” might be Moritz Hauptman’s (1792-1868) dialectical and “proto-phenomenological” (Caplin, 2002: 677) theory of time projection recycled by Chris Hasty (1997) into an analytical method for twentieth-century music. For Hauptman, the appearance of a second beat demarcates the completion of the duration associated with a first beat, and it is not until a third beat is initiated that one will group these two equal beats into a larger “two-timed” meter. Those interested in reviewing the whole argument shoud consult Caplin (2002: 677-682). In both of these theories of meter induction, there is an assumption that we expect the series of equally spaced events to continue without being interrupted by an event onset that is either too “early” or too “late.” Here is Longuet-Higgins and Lee (1982) as summarized by Clarke (1999):

“after two onsets (O1 and O2) have been detected, a third onset (O3) is predicted to occur at the same time interval after the second event as the second is after the first… Confirmation of this prediction (by the arrival of an event at or near to O3) causes the system to jump up a level in the emerging metrical hierarchy…” (484)

Mapping the Field: Rhythm Perception & Cognition from 1989 to 2010

Topical literature reviews such as the surveys provided by Handel (1989), Clarke (1999), Grahn (2009), and Tan & al. (2010) are useful to get a sense of the main research questions and findings related to a complex phenomenon as well as of the different approaches adopted and the challenges that face researchers attempting to shed light on related questions. At the same time, when writing a survey on a phenomenon as complex or multifaceted as musical rhythm (as attested by the various disciplines involved in its study), it is impossible to represent all perspectives, or draw a comprehensive picture of even only a few core aspects of the phenomenon. Nevertheless, beyond the specific information provided on questions, theories, methods, findings, and limitations, such surveys, when read with a critical eye, can be very revealing of the dynamics in the field they endeavor to represent.

In preparation for our next meeting, write a short commentary that compare at least two of these surveys. To give enough time to everybody to review your commentary, please post it no later than Tuesday, September 10, 11:59 PM. You might want to focus on one of the three sets of guiding questions provided below or come up with your own questions:

  1. How has the field of rhythm perception/cognition changed in the period of time covered by the surveys you read? Are there topics or theories that seem to have gained popularity or fallen in disfavor? What might have motivated or brought on these changes?
  2. How is “musical rhythm” defined by each author, and what aspects of musical rhythm are identified as core topics for empirical study?
  3. Based on the sources cited and ideas brought forward in each survey reviewed, how much interaction is there between psychological researchers and music scholars working on related questions/topics? Is there a trend in one or another direction?