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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: Judd, Robert
TITLE: Commentary on Justin London's MTO 0.2 article
REFERENCE: mto.93.0.2.london.art
File: mto.93.0.3.judd.tlk
I was interested in Richard Parncutt's comments, although I came up
with a different perception.  
> Regarding durational accent, the last of the six notes (A) will tend  
> to sound accented due to its relatively long effective duration. 
This seems crucially important to me.
> If, as the notation of Justin's example implies, the  
> first 3 notes represent C major harmony and the last three F major,  
> then the harmonic accent will fall on the fourth note, F. 
Is there an implied problem here?  if we think CDE FGA, we'll imply
groups of three (A weak).  
> Perhaps the strongest effect of all in the example is the primacy  
> effect, according to which the first note is the downbeat, simply  
> beacuse it is the first.
OK, but I didn't sense this.  I.e. We start with no expectations, we
hear a note, we ask "is it a downbeat or an upbeat?"  We listen to
confirm one or the other alternative.  BUT for the last note A, we
have heard quite a few pitches in a series, we come to expect the
same, but hear silence instead, which thus accents the last note
strongly.  I seem to hear the A as stronger than the C, thus I arrange
duples and triples to come up with A as downbeat.  I end up getting
either c alone as upbeat in duple meter (C DE FG A) or c and d as
upbeats in triple meter (CD EFG A) (a possibility not mentioned by
Both of these of course imply the melody as part of a context.  My
preferred interpretation, C DE FG A, is found in "doh, a deer"!
Bob Judd

Re Stephen Smoliar's comments, drawing Beethoven's first into the
picture: yes, I agree, there is a tradition of the musical phrase that
goes way back, making the conveyance of downbeat "natural" and easy.
One might also invoke the intro to Beethoven's seventh (i) or the
Stravinsky Symphony in C (i) (which probably relied on just that
literate ear to pick up the Beeth. refs.).  The chicken-egg question
that the perception-oriented person is wondering about is: do we hear
it that way because we're so used to hearing it that way (i.e. is it
learned), or do we hear it that way because of an a priori, physically
based, perceptual inclination, one that has little reliance on
previous experience?
Bob Judd
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