Stability of Tempo Perception in Music Listening

Lapidaki, Eleni (2000) Stability of Tempo Perception in Music Listening. [Journal (Paginated)]

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This study was designed to determine whether listeners from different age groups and musical backgrounds (musicians and nonmusicians) could set tempi in a consistent manner over an extended period of time. The variables of musical style, familiarity, and preference were also considered. Subjects (n=90) heard the same six compositions on four separate occasions. The order of the presentation and the initial tempo of the examples were varied systematically in each session. Subjects were asked to listen to each composition and indicate whether the experimenter should set the tempo "faster" or "slower" until it sounded right to them; they had to adjust an initially wrong tempo to a personally preferred tempo. Results indicated that the initial tempo significantly dominated subjects’ "correct" tempo judgements: the slower initial tempo generally evoked slower tempo selections, and so on. However, a relatively small number of adults, mostly musicians, were remarkably consistent in their tempo judgements across all four trials. It appeared that these individuals possess an exceptional ability with respect to acute stability of large-scale timing in music. There was also evidence that the degree of consistency in correct tempo judgements gradually increased from preadolescence through adulthood. Few statistically significant differences in consistency of tempo judgements were found as a result of musical background. The findings strongly suggested that the style of musical examples influenced the degree of tempo consistency across trials. Moreover, there was statistically significant evidence that an increase of familiarity with and preference for the musical examples and the musical styles resulted in an increase of consistency of correct tempo judgements. The study concludes with recommendations for music education.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:tempo perception, musical time, absolute tempo, music psychology, music education, music listening
Subjects:Psychology > Perceptual Cognitive Psychology
ID Code:1828
Deposited By:Lapidaki, Eleni
Deposited On:19 Oct 2001
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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