Three Things Linguists Need to Know About Rhythm and Time in Music

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This paper, directed at researchers in linguistics, introduces three key aspects of musical rhythm and time for their consideration: (1) the distinction between groups of durations (i.e., acoustical events in the world) and our endogenous sense of beats and beat cycles, that is, musical meter; (2) the active nature of rhythmic perception and cognition, which involves both innate and enculturated responses to music, and (3) that musical rhythms involve temporal processes on different time scales (from 100ms to 5-7 seconds), though they are integrated into a coherent perceptual framework. In addition, the relationships between musical rhythm and sensorimotor entrainment, as well as some important differences between musical and linguistic rhythms, are discussed.



meter, grouping, entrainment, time-scales, attention


Empirical Musicology Review, v7 n1-2 (Jan-Apr 2012), 5-11