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Psychon Bull Rev. 2017 Apr;24(2):474-480. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1093-7.

Rhythm histograms and musical meter: A corpus study of Malian percussion music.

Author information

1
Carleton College, Music, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN, 55057, USA. jlondon@carleton.edu.
2
Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, Unter Krahnenbäumen 87, 50668, Cologne, Germany.
3
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.

Abstract

Studies of musical corpora have given empirical grounding to the various features that characterize particular musical styles and genres. Palmer & Krumhansl (1990) found that in Western classical music the likeliest places for a note to occur are the most strongly accented beats in a measure, and this was also found in subsequent studies using both Western classical and folk music corpora (Huron & Ommen, 2006; Temperley, 2010). We present a rhythmic analysis of a corpus of 15 performances of percussion music from Bamako, Mali. In our corpus, the relative frequency of note onsets in a given metrical position does not correspond to patterns of metrical accent, though there is a stable relationship between onset frequency and metrical position. The implications of this non-congruence between simple statistical likelihood and metrical structure for the ways in which meter and metrical accent may be learned and understood are discussed, along with importance of cross-cultural studies for psychological research.

KEYWORDS:

Cross-cultural study; Musical rhythm; Situated cognition

PMID:
27383617
DOI:
10.3758/s13423-016-1093-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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