In a study of tempo perception, London, Burger, Thompson, and Toiviainen (2016) presented participants with digitally ‘‘tempo-shifted’’ R&B songs (i.e., sped up or slowed down without otherwise altering their pitch or timbre). They found that while participants’ relative tempo judgments of original versus altered versions were correct, they no longer corresponded to the beat rate of each stimulus. Here we report on three experiments that further probe the relation(s) between beat rate, tempo-shifting, beat salience, melodic structure, and perceived tempo. Experiment 1 is a replication of London et al. (2016) using the original stimuli. Experiment 2 replaces the Motown stimuli with disco music, which has higher beat salience. Experiment 3 uses looped drum patterns, eliminating pitch and other cues from the stimuli and maximizing beat salience. The effect of London et al. (2016) was replicated in Experiment 1, present to a lesser degree in Experiment 2, and absent in Experiment 3. Experiments 2 and 3 also found that participants were able to make tempo judgments in accordance with BPM rates for stimuli that were not tempo-shifted. The roles of beat salience, melodic structure, and memory for tempo are discussed, and the TAE as an example of perceptual sharpening is considered.
Motown, Disco, and Drumming: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Beat Salience, Melodic Structure, and Perceived Tempo
Initial research was supported by a Finnish Core Fulbright Scholar grant to author JL, and by an Academy of Finland grant (project ‘‘Dynamics of Music Cognition,’’ project numbers 272250, 274037) to authors PT, BB, and MT.
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Justin London, Birgitta Burger, Marc Thompson, Molly Hildreth, Johanna Wilson, Nick Schally, Petri Toiviainen; Motown, Disco, and Drumming: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Beat Salience, Melodic Structure, and Perceived Tempo. Music Perception 1 September 2019; 37 (1): 26–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2019.37.1.26
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