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OFAI-TR-2001-16 ( 241kB g-zipped PostScript file,  89kB PDF file)

Human Preferences for Tempo Smoothness

Emilios Cambouropoulos, Simon Dixon, Werner Goebl, Gerhard Widmer

In this study we investigate the relationship between beat and musical performance. It is hypothesised that listeners prefer beat sequences that are smoother than beat tracks that are fully aligned with the actual onsets of performed notes. In order to examine this hypothesis, an experiment was designed whereby six different smoothed beat tracks generated are rated by subjects in relation to how well they correspond to a number of performed piano excerpts. It is shown that there is a preference of listeners for beat sequences that are slightly smoother than the onset times of the corresponding musical notes. This outcome was strongly supported by the results obtained from the group of trained musicians whereas it seems to have no bearing for the group of non-musicians.

Keywords: music, beat tracking,

Citation: Proceedings of the VII International Symposium on Systematic and Comparative Musicology and III International Conference on Cognitive Musicology 16-19 August 2001, Jyväskylä, Finland, pp 18-26.