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       M U S I C          T H E O R Y         O N L I N E
                     A Publication of the
                   Society for Music Theory
          Copyright (c) 1993 Society for Music Theory
| Volume 0, Number 3      June, 1993      ISSN:  1067-3040    |
  All queries to: mto-editor@husc.harvard.edu
AUTHOR: London, Justin
TITLE: Preliminary response to the MTO 0.2 article
REFERENCE: mto.93.0.2.london.art
Whilst there were (as of yet) no "formal" responses to my
article on "Loud Rests and Other Strange Metric Phenomena"
I was most gratified to see the number and variety of responses,
comments, and discussion that appeared on the SMT-list.  I
was especially pleased that a number of music-psychologists
joined in the debate, as well as mainstream theorists (what
ever that means, these days).  
For volume 0.4 I will prepare a formal reply to several of
the discussion threads which arose in response to "Loud Rests",
but for the moment I would like to offer a few comments on
some issues raised by Joel Lester, Rich Parncutt, and others
about my "weird" third example.
Example 3 is metrically ambigious in a deadpan performance,
and was so chosen precisely for that reason (though I will admit
to moving rather quickly from the physicist's first hearing to
the metrically-indexed version in paragraph [6]).  I was/am
assuming that in this example did not have a deadpan performance, 
but rather a performance which contains subtle, yet highly conven-
tionalized variations in timing and dynamics (what Sloboda, op. cit.
below, has termed "expressive variations") of each note within the 
anacrusis; these varitaions act as cues for the meter.(1) On the 
basis of those cues we can hear the first three durations, leaving
any tonal interpretation(s) aside for the moment, as inidicative 
of a "and-four-and-ONE" metric pattern.   Lester is completely  
correct in reminding us that the score is a set of directions 
for the performer, which is not the same thing as a knowledge-
representation of the listener's metric cognition and understanding.
(1) The study of timing and dynamics (and their metric implications)
is currently a hot topic in music-cognition circles.  Aside from the work
by Eric Clarke on "Categorical Rhythmic Perception" cited in "Loud
Rests," other relevant studies include: Alf Gabrielsson, "Timing in 
Music Performance and its Relations to Music Experience." in *Generative 
Processes in Music,* ed. John Sloboda, Oxford: Clarendon Press,1988;
John A. Sloboda, "The Communication of Musical Metre in Piano
Performance," *Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology* 35A:377-96,
1983; and Neil P. Todd, "A Model of Expressive Timing in Music," *Music
Perception* 3:33-58, 1985.
And as result of following the directions given by the score, 
musicians will produce a sound structure that encodes the metric
information--the bar lines are thus "recoverable" to the listener.
Lester also is quite right in pointing out that when we first hear
the melody we have no idea that the opening pitches are "sol-la-
ti-do."  The first note can be anything; the first two are a whole
step, which could be placed in various diatonic conetxts.  But when
we have the first three tones (assuming a diatonic context, which of course,
may be an incorrect assumption), which span two whole steps, we now
a fairly circumscribed number of tonal possibilities: do-re-mi, 
fa-sol-la, or sol-la-ti.  Of these three only the first and third
are viable candiates for a diatonic beginning--as starting on 
fa is rather unlikely (examples, anyone?).  But at this point (3
notes into the "piece"), we will also have some timing and dynamic
information about the three notes; as indicated above, a performer
faithful to the notation will give varying emphasis to these
pitches, something like "tone-Tone-tone-(TONE)".  If we perceive
that the second note is longer/louder (just a bit) that the first
or third, we have a good reason to hear the tones as "sol-La-ti-DO"
(OK, I've included the fourth note now), since the rhytmic emphasis
is on the 2nd and (esp.) fourth notes of the scale.  I posit that
this interpretation is more likely than one which places these
tones in a "do-Re-mi-FA" context, for that would be a highly atypical
metric placement for tonic.  Indeed, what I believe Lester did
in grouping the 8ths in pairst, starting on the strong 8th, was
to mentally perform the opening motive as "DO-re-Mi-fa-SOL-la (rest)",
with appropriate expressive variations for that metric context.
Along with expressive variations, and the scale-step limits that
accrue as the melodic line unfolds, there is another factor which
facilitates metric recognition, and that is that listeners know 
a lot about musical beginnings.  It seems reasonable to imagine
that we have a rich store of opening templates or schemata (of
varying levels of specificity) which appertain to different musical
styles.  We have a "so-La-ti-DO" pattern already in our heads,
in other words, and so it isn't so much a task of building the 
scale-step representations and metric placement from first principles,
as it were, as it is a task of matching the given sound structure
to our repertoire of opening gestures.
As a final remark re the "problems of example 3", in "Loud Rests"
I point out that metric cognition involves two phases, one of 
recognition, as well as one of continuation.  What should be noted
here is the metric recognition phase, which is what all the fuss
is about, _must_ be retrospective--how could it be otherwise, unless
we have metrically clairvoyant listeners--but nonetheless we are
able to achieve metric recognition _very_ fast.  This rapidity is
due to the rich number of cues the music provices via expressive
varations as well as our practiced experience in responding to those
Well, this is perhaps a bit more than just an informal reply, so I 
will conclude with a promissory note.  In volume 0.4 I hope to comment
on Smoliar's discusion of Desain's work on Expectancy Space, and
its relevance to a dynamic model of meter, as well as the discussion
thread spun by Judd, Demske, and others re musical and cognitive
Justin London
Carleton College
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