This study reports on an experiment that tested whether drummers systematically manipulated not only onset but also duration and/or intensity of strokes in order to achieve different timing styles. Twenty-two professional drummers performed two patterns (a simple “back-beat” and a complex variation) on a drum kit (hi-hat, snare, kick) in three different timing styles (laid-back, pushed, on-beat), in tandem with two timing references (metronome and instrumental backing track). As expected, onset location corresponded to the instructed timing styles for all instruments. The instrumental reference led to more pronounced timing profiles than the metronome (pushed strokes earlier, laid-back strokes later). Also, overall the metronome reference led to earlier mean onsets than the instrumental reference, possibly related to the “negative mean asynchrony” phenomenon. Regarding sound, results revealed systematic differences across participants in the duration (snare) and intensity (snare and hi-hat) of strokes played using the different timing styles. Pattern also had an impact: drummers generally played the rhythmically more complex pattern 2 louder than the simpler pattern 1 (snare and kick). Overall, our results lend further evidence to the hypothesis that both temporal and sound-related features contribute to the indication of the timing of a rhythmic event in groove-based performance.

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