The theoretical and experimental literatures pertaining to pitch-related accent are reviewed. From these literatures, eight competing notions of melodic accent are identified. All eight conceptions of melodic accent were investigated through correlational studies of three contrasting samples of music. Statistical correlations were calculated for each accent type with respect to the corresponding metric position or with respect to the syllabic/melismatic status of associated sung text. The results for all three studies are most consistent with a perceptual model of melodic accent developed by Joseph Thomassen (1982). The remaining conceptions of melodic accent receive little or no empirical support. In addition, this study reveals an endemic use of text-melody displacement in a sample of Gregorian chant—suggesting that the chant melodies were constructed so as to avoid strong rhythmic stresses.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.