Some researchers and study participants have expressed an intuition that novel rhythmic sequences are easier to recall and reproduce if they have a melody, implying that melodicity (the presence of musical pitch variation) fundamentally enhances perception and/or representation of rhythm. But the psychoacoustics literature suggests that pitch variation often impairs perception of temporal information. To examine the effect of melodicity on rhythm reproduction accuracy, we presented simple nine-note auditory rhythms to 100 college students, who attempted to reproduce those rhythms by tapping. Reproductions tended to be more accurate when the presented notes all had the same pitch than when the presented notes had a melody. Nonetheless, a plurality of participants judged that the melodically presented rhythms were easier to remember. We also found that sequences containing a Scotch snap (a sixteenth note at a quarter note beat position followed by a dotted eighth note) were reproduced less accurately than other sequences in general, and less accurately than other sequences containing a dotted eighth note.

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