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Percept Psychophys. 1993 Jan;53(1):25-33.

Reproduction of musical rhythms by children, adult musicians, and adult nonmusicians.

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University of Paris V, CNRS URA 316, France.


Many sequential events, musical rhythms in particular, can be described by a hierarchical structure, with lower order events recursively combining to form higher levels. This study investigated factors influencing the ease of reproduction of short musical rhythms that reflect various organizational principles. For adults and children, reproduction was better for rhythms with the following characteristics: (1) binary rather than ternary subdivision, (2) two rather than three different durations, (3) the ability to be segmented into two shorter rhythms of identical duration, and (4) intensity accents on important hierarchical positions. These findings suggest that a prototypical temporal structure--that is, a regular beat with binary subdivisions--is functional in childhood. The ability to process complex hierarchical structure appeared to be influenced more by musical training than by passive acculturation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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