Beat deafness

This Washington Post article discusses recent research on “beat deafness”:

Here’s the link to the study mentioned in the article, Losing the beat: deficits in temporal coordination:

Assignment for Tuesday & Thursday, November 18 & 20

With only two full weeks of class left (weeks of November 17 & December 1), we are now zooming on the last essential tasks left for this course.

1. Group experiment project: For next Tuesday, you should try to get as much of the experimental design completed as possible so that we can run your experiment as a pilot. Post the link and invitation to the pilot study on the Forum page of the Virtual Lab as soon as it is ready and at the latest by class time on Tuesday. All students will be required to complete the pilot study for the other team and post questions/comments/concerns as a reply to the Forum post. We will use class time to complete this task and do some troubleshooting, so bring earphones!

I will be posted the template for the structured abstract report as well as sample reports from past offerings of this course on the Virtual Lab next week.

2. Individual project: On Thursday, we will use class time for a panel discussion of your individual projects. Each student should be ready to make a 5-10 minutes presentation and answer questions/comments from their peers. In preparation for this presentation, you will need to do/prepare the following:

a. Review the feedback on your lit review; I will post individual feedback on all projects by the end of the day, Friday, November 14. Post questions/comments using the reply function, as necessary.

b. Re-formulate your research question taking into consideration your background research. Is there a specific aspect of the topic that seems more fruitful to pursue? Are there previous findings that suggest a particular path of exploration for your topic? Which sources might be most helpful in guiding your work toward developing your own perspective on this question?

c. Do some follow-up database research using more specific keywords suggested by the source(s) most closely related to your re-formulated question. Alternatively, you might search for sources in an area that you didn’t get a chance to explore in your lit review, if it suggests itself as especially promising at this point.

d. Post your re-formulated question and the citations & abstracts of the new sources you have identified on your individual project page.

e. Prepare an action plan for completing your individual project. In particular, think about the format of your final presentation. The format will vary based on your individual interests, the nature of your question, and the state of research. While each of you will be presenting your project to a “mock” panel of judges as if you were applying for a grant to pursue research, it is not expected that the research would necessarily include an experiment. You might find that what is needed is field observation, collecting primary sources, preparing a large-scale survey, or some other research activity. I invite you to be imaginative and let your research question guide you to the most appropriate format.

Your panel presentation on Thursday will be a summary of thoughts and findings generated by these steps. You may use the projector or prepare a handout if it will facilitate your presentation, but this is not required. However, you should prepare notes of what you want to say to make the presentation as clear and efficient as possible.

Assignment for Thursday, November 13

For Thursday, continue working on the implementation of your group project (pilot study). Review the instructions (STEP 5) carefully, in particular the supplementary materials and online experiments (STEP 4); there are also links to online experiments on the Resources page of the Virtual Lab. Remember to post draft materials on your group page for feedback.

We will again do troubleshooting and divide the time evenly between the two pilot studies.

Simple Rhythms Template

Here is a sample of the simple rhythms for our group experiment. I apologize for any fuzziness in the image and will figure that out soon! All the rhythms contain 12 beats (either 4 bars of 3/4 or 3 bars of 4/4) using only 8ths, quarters, half notes and dotted half notes. There are no syncopations. The altered versions are found directly underneath their initial “inspiration” and are hopefully subtle changes. I made alterations in two ways: by either changing a single note value (ex: a quarter note becoming two 8ths, etc) or by flipping a rhythmic cell (ex: two 8ths and a quarter becoming a quarter and two 8ths, etc). The alternate versions will always be presented in the identical tempo as the original.



YalMusT New Resources & Workshops

YalMusT are greatly expanding our yearly workshop offerings this year.  In addition to notation workshops (Sibelius and Finale) we are offering a series of workshops in conjunction with the new Open Music Initiative that are designed to introduce you to open source hardware and software for musical notation, editing, production, etc.  This is software you can download and use for free that can replace many for-cost programs.  Additionally, we are teaching a number of DIY hardware workshops where participants can learn about analog sound synthesis while actually making simple synthesizers.  To keep up-to-date on what is happening you have a plethora of choices.

The official YalMusT pages below contain lots of useful information about our labs, offerings, classes, and more.

YalMusT Site:

YalMusT Workshops:


Additionally, we started two mailing lists this year that you can sign up to receive announcements about the weeks goings-on.  To subscribe to general YalMusT announcements (one email per week) please see the following link.

Subscribe here:

(List address:

To subscribe to OMI workshop and meet-up announcements, please click the following link:
(List address:
And lastly (but not leastly) if you are on The Facebooks™ and prefer to receive your information in social event form, please click on the following links and like our pages.  We will post relevant event information to both.

More Group Project Citations

How Hooker Found his Boogie – A Rhythmic Analysis of a Classic Groove

Analyzes the rhythmic components in John Lee Hooker’s boogie. Hooker recasts a signature riff from a ternary to a binary beat subdivision, paving the way for the triple-to-duple shift that characterized mid-century American popular music. Further, the boogie’s hypnotic feel is attributed to two psychoacoustic phenomena: stream segregation and temporal order misjudgment. Stream segregation occurs when the musical surface is divided by the listener into two or more auditory entities (streams), usually as a result of timbral and registral contrasts. In Hooker’s case, these contrasts occur between the guitar groove’s downbeats and upbeats, whose extreme proximity also blurs their temporal order. These expressive effects are complemented by global and gradual accelerandos that envelop Hooker’s early performances.


The secret ingredient: State of affairs and future directions in groove studies

In African-American music studies (jazz, soul, funk, rock), ‘groove’ is a concept with strong, positive connotations. Its principal meaning describes the music’s effect on musicians and listeners: music with a good groove incites people to engage emotionally with the music and to participate with their bodies. Groove makes people dance, bob their heads, and tap their toes. There have been two major scholarly approaches to the groove phenomenon: one focusing on groove as a process, another explaining it from a structural perspective. This double meaning has a basis in the parlance of musicians themselves: jazz musicians use the verb ‘to groove’/’grooving’ in order to denote the process or activity of playing successfully together in such a way that musicians and listeners participate both emotionally and bodily in the music. Music also use the noun ‘a groove’ in order to talk about a particular pattern of composition or arrangement. ‘Grooving’ (in the verbal sense) can happen on the structural basis of ‘a groove’ (in the substantive sense). The inverse is also true in a beat-oriented musical context: when musicians are ‘grooving’, they do it on the structural basis of ‘a grove’, which can be described in analytical way.


Perception and analysing methods of groove in popular music

The rhythm (groove) of Western popular music cannot be described in just one string of notes or rhythmic symbols; all the interacting rhythms played by different instruments have to be included in the analysis. The instruments have different perceived beat-weights, that is, different strengths to establish meter. On a metrical level chosen by the listener there exists an off-beat—an event in the temporal middle between beats. If an instrument with a higher beat-weight is played on the beats, an off-beat feeling is produced. There is a qualitative difference in perceiving grooves with higher and lower ‘degrees of off-beat’. Finally, there seems to exist a relation between the perceived meters and the motor action of a listener, which he or she uses to perceive the rhythm. It is possible for a listener to move in different ways simultaneously and, according to his or her motor actions, peceive several meters at the same time.

Assignment due Tuesday, November 11

REMEMBER that there will be no class meeting on Thursday, November 6, due to the annual conference of the American Musicological Society (AMS) and the Society for Music Theory (SMT), which is taking place in Milwaukee, WI. You are strongly encouraged to use class time (and space) to work on your experimental design.

This week will be devoted to implementation, with the goal of stating to collect data the following week. Read the posting for STEP 5, which includes contact information as well as supplementary materials (e.g., Honing & Ladinig on strategies to run successful online experiments).

Also, I strongly recommend that you post preliminary materials on your group project’s section of the course blog (e.g., test questions, description of stimuli for participants, instructions, debriefing information, etc.). That way, I will be able to provide feedback (I will have access to the internet while at the conference).

Good luck!