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Hearing in TimePsychological Aspects of Musical Meter$
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Justin London

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195160819

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195160819.001.0001

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Meter as a Kind of Attentional Behavior

Meter as a Kind of Attentional Behavior

(p.9) 1 Meter as a Kind of Attentional Behavior
Hearing in Time

Justin London

Oxford University Press

Meter is defined as musically-specific form of entrainment, the synchronization of attention and/or other behaviors (especially motor behaviors) with periodic rhythms in the environment. This synchronization leads us to expect events at certain times, and thus shapes the perception of those events. Metric events, such as beats and downbeats, are periodic peaks of attention. These periodicities are organized into metric hierarchies that coordinate attention to events on various time-scales. These hierarchies, in turn, affect the way we group a series of notes into a rhythmic figure, as well as how we hear certain notes as accented or unaccented.

Keywords:   entrainment, attention, expectation, grouping, accent, metric hierarchy

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