Syncopation and the score.
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The score is a symbolic encoding that describes a piece of music, written according to the conventions of music theory, which must be rendered as sound (e.g., by a performer) before it may be perceived as music by the listener. In this paper we provide a step towards unifying music theory with music perception in terms of the relationship between notated rhythm (i.e., the score) and perceived syncopation. In our experiments we evaluated this relationship by manipulating the score, rendering it as sound and eliciting subjective judgments of syncopation. We used a metronome to provide explicit cues to the prevailing rhythmic structure (as defined in the time signature). Three-bar scores with time signatures of 4/4 and 6/8 were constructed using repeated one-bar rhythm-patterns, with each pattern built from basic half-bar rhythm-components. Our manipulations gave rise to various rhythmic structures, including polyrhythms and rhythms with missing strong- and/or down-beats. Listeners (N = 10) were asked to rate the degree of syncopation they perceived in response to a rendering of each score. We observed higher degrees of syncopation in time signatures of 6/8, for polyrhythms, and for rhythms featuring a missing down-beat. We also found that the location of a rhythm-component within the bar has a significant effect on perceived syncopation. Our findings provide new insight into models of syncopation and point the way towards areas in which the models may be improved.
AuthorsSong, C; Simpson, AJ; Harte, CA; Pearce, MT; Sandler, MB
- College Publications