A FILLED DURATION ILLUSION IN MUSIC: EFFECTS OF METRICAL SUBDIVISION ON THE PERCEPTION AND PRODUCTION OF BEAT TEMPO
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This study replicates and extends previous findings suggesting that metrical subdivision slows the perceived beat tempo (Repp, 2008). Here, musically trained participants produced the subdivisions themselves and were found to speed up, thus compensating for the perceived slowing. This was shown in a synchronization-continuation paradigm (Experiment 1) and in a reproduction task (Experiment 2a). Participants also judged the tempo of a subdivided sequence as being slower than that of a preceding simple beat sequence (Experiment 2b). Experiment 2 also included nonmusician participants, with similar results. Tempo measurements of famous pianists' recordings of two variation movements from Beethoven sonatas revealed a strong tendency to play the first variation (subdivided beats) faster than the theme (mostly simple beats). A similar tendency was found in musicians' laboratory performances of a simple theme and variations, despite instructions to keep the tempo constant (Experiment 3a). When playing melodic sequences in which only one of three beats per measure was subdivided, musicians tended to play these beats faster and to perceive them as longer than adjacent beats, and they played the whole sequence faster than a sequence without any subdivisions (Experiments 3b and 3c). The results amply demonstrate a 'filled duration illusion' in rhythm perception and music performance: Intervals containing events seem longer than empty intervals and thus must be shortened to be perceived as equal in duration.
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