Dissertation Index



Author: Lapidaki, Eleni

Title: Consistency of Tempo Judgments as a Measure of Time Experience in Music Listening

Institution: Northwestern University, School of Music

Completed: June 1996

Abstract:

This study was designed to determine whether listeners from different age groups (30 adults, 30 adolescents, and 30 preadolescents) and musical backgrounds (musicians and nonmusicians) could set tempi in a consistent manner over an extended period of time. The variables of musical style (e.g., Baroque, Impressionistic, contemporary idiom, rock ballad, and dance music), familiarity, and preference were also considered. Subjects heard the same six compositions on four separate occasions. Each session systematically varied the order of the presentation and the initial tempo of the examples. Each was recorded digitally and performed in real time with a computer controlling a MIDI synthesizer. Subjects were asked to listen to each piece and indicate whether the experimenter should set the tempo "faster" or "slower" until it sounded right to them.

Results of repeated measures ANOVAs indicated that the initial tempo significantly dominated subjects’ "right" tempo judgments: the slower initial tempo generally evoked slower tempo selections, and so on. However, a relatively small number of adults, mostly musicians, were remarkably consistent in their tempo judgments across all four trials. It appeared that these individuals possess an exceptional ability with respect to acute stability of large-scale timing in music that was labeled "absolute tempo."

There was also evidence that the degree of consistency in right tempo judgments gradually increased from preadolescence through adulthood. Few statistically significant differences in consistency of tempo judgments were found as a result of musical background. Findings strongly suggested that the style of musical examples influenced the degree of tempo consistency across trials. Moreover, there was statistically significant evidence that an increase of familiarity with the musical examples and the musical styles resulted in an increase of consistency of right tempo judgments. Finally, there was statistically significant evidence that subjects tended to render more consistent tempo judgments for the pieces they like than for the ones they dislike.

This research was awarded the "Outstanding Dissertation Award for 1996" by the Council for Research in Music Education (CRME) during Music Education National Conference (MENC) in Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A., April 1998.

Keywords: musical time, tempo perceptio, absolute tempo, musical ability, depelopmental psychology of music, music education

TOC:

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Purpose of the Study
Research Questions
Need for the Study
Organization of the Study
Background for the Study
Relation of the Dissertation to the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience (CSEME)
The Problem of Time: A Perennial Issue of Bifurcation
Absolute Time
Relational Time
New Concepts of Time in the Twentieth Century
The Dialectic of Time in Music
The Significance of Tempo in Music
Summary

CHAPTER 2. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
General Considerations
Physiological Basis of the Sense of Tempo
Psychological Tempo in Music Listening and Performance
The Impact of Tempo on Affective Responses to Music
Tempo Changes in Music Performance
The Ability for Discrimination of Tempo Changes in Music Listening
Defining Personal Factors of Tempo Perception:
Age
Musical Background
Preference and Familiarity
Consistency in Tempo Perception
Conclusion

CHAPTER 3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
Basic Assumptions
Research Questions
Methodology:
Characteristics and Selection of Musical Examples
Subjects
Apparatus
Procedures

CHAPTER 4. REPORT AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
Presentation of Data
Research Question 1: Consistency of Tempo Judgments
Research Question 2: The Variable of Age
Research Question 3: The Variable of Musical Background
Research Question 4: The Variable of Musical Style
Research Question 5a: The Variable of Familiarity with Musical Examples
Research Question 5b: The Variable of Familiarity with Musical Styles
Research Question 6: The Variable of Preference
Discussion of Results:
Consistency of Tempo Judgments
Absolute Tempo
The Variable of Age
The Variable of Musical Background
The Variable of Musical Style
The Variable of Familiarity
The Variable of Preference

CHAPTER 5. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Additional Reflections
Summary:depelopmental psychology of music
Representative Ideas of Time, Musical Time, and Tempo
Related Empirical Research
Review of the Present Study
Recommendations for music research
Recommendations for music education

Contact:

Dr. Eleni Lapidaki
Faculty of Music
Department of Musical Studies
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
54006 thessaloniki
Greece

email: lapidaki@mus.auth.gr
Office phone/voicemail: +30 31 995876


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