Temporal Envelope

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The Temporal Envelope is a domain of rhythmic inter onset intervals that seeks to depict the upper and lower limits for practical musical meter.

The temporal envelope was postulated by Justin London according to scientific data relating to human perceptual thresholds with regard to tempo.The lower limit for meter, about 100ms, is described as the shortest interval “we can hear or perform as an element of rhythmic figure…” (London, 27). The upper limit is about 5 to 6 seconds, which is set by “our capacity to hierarchically integrate successive events into a stable pattern.” (27) These two thresholds together compose the temporal envelope for meter.


One thought on “Temporal Envelope

  1. It should be specified that the 100ms lower limit is for a subdivision of a beat; technically, then, the lower limit for meter (which involves at least two levels, i.e., a beat and its subdivision or beats and their grouping into measures) is 200ms.

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