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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2000 Feb;26(1):206-33.

The fast and the slow of skilled bimanual rhythm production: parallel versus integrated timing.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Potsdam, Germany. krampe@rz.uni-potsdam.de


Professional pianists performed 2 bimanual rhythms at a wide range of different tempos. The polyrhythmic task required the combination of 2 isochronous sequences (3 against 4) between the hands; in the syncopated rhythm task successive keystrokes formed intervals of identical (isochronous) durations. At slower tempos, pianists relied on integrated timing control merging successive intervals between the hands into a common reference frame. A timer-motor model is proposed based on the concepts of rate fluctuation and the distinction between target specification and timekeeper execution processes as a quantitative account of performance at slow tempos. At rapid rates expert pianists used hand-independent, parallel timing control. In alternative to a model based on a single central clock, findings support a model of flexible control structures with multiple timekeepers that can work in parallel to accommodate specific task constraints.

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