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Internal representation of simple temporal patterns.


In this study the imitation of several periodically repeating simple temporal patterns consisting of two or more intervals varying in their duration ratios has been investigated. The errors that subjects typically made in their imitations and the systematic changes that occurred during repeated imitations indicate that both musically trained and untrained subjects map temporal sequences onto an interval structure the nature of which is revealed by studying which patterns are correctly and which incorrectly reproduced. A "beat-based" model for the perception of temporal sequences is proposed. This model states that the first step in the processing of a temporal sequence consists of a segmentation of the sequence into equal intervals bordered by events. This interval is called the beat interval. How listeners select this beat interval is only partly understood. In a second step, intervals smaller than the beat interval are expressed as a subdivision of the beat interval in which they occur. The number of within-beat structures that can be represented in the model is, however, limited. Specifically, only beat intervals that are subdivided into either equal intervals or intervals in a 1:2 ratio fit within the model. The partially hierarchical model proposed, though in need of further elaborations, shows why the number of temporal patterns that can be correctly conceptualized is limited. The relation of the model to other models is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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