Send to

Choose Destination
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012 Apr;1252:92-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06466.x.

Effects of perceptual experience on children's and adults' perception of unfamiliar rhythms.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154, USA.


Rhythm and meter are fundamental components of music that are universal yet also culture specific. Although simple, isochronous meters are preferred and more readily discriminated than highly complex, nonisochronous meters, moderately complex nonisochronous meters do not pose a problem for listeners who are exposed to them from a young age. The present work uses a behavioral task to examine the ease with which listeners of various ages acquire knowledge of unfamiliar metrical structures from passive exposure. We examined perception of familiar (Western) rhythms with an isochronous meter and unfamiliar (Balkan) rhythms with a nonisochronous meter. We compared discrimination by American children (5 to 11 years) and adults before and after a 2-week period of at-home listening to nonisochronous meter music from Bulgaria. During the first session, listeners of all ages exhibited superior discrimination of isochronous than in nonisochronous melodies. Across sessions, this asymmetry declined for young children but not for older children and adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center