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The Perception of Musical Rhythm and Metre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-569
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 1977


The occurrence of relatively long notes, and the repetition of melodic phrases are important cues to the metre, or regular beat, of a piece of music. A model of how people use this information to infer the metre of unaccompanied melodies is described here. The model is in the form of a computer program, and involves a definition of melodic repetition which encompasses repetitions that include certain kinds of variation. The program has been applied to the task of analysing the metric structure of the forty-eight fugue subjects of the Well-Tempered Clavier by J S Bach. The program is discussed in relation to other models both of musical understanding and of sequential concept learning.

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