Subdividing the Beat: Auditory and Motor Contributions to Synchronization

  • Loehr J
  • Palmer C
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THE CURRENT STUDY EXAMINED HOW AUDITORY AND kinematic information influenced pianists’ ability to synchronize musical sequences with a metronome. Pianists performed melodies in which quarter-note beats were subdivided by intervening eighth notes that resulted from auditory information (heard tones), motor production (produced tones), both, or neither. Temporal accuracy of performance was compared with finger trajectories recorded with motion capture. Asynchronies were larger when motor or auditory sen- sory information occurred between beats; auditory information yielded the largest asynchronies. Pianists were sensitive to the timing of the sensory information; information that occurred earlier relative to the mid- point between metronome beats was associated with larger asynchronies on the following beat. Finger motion was influenced only by motor production between beats and indicated the influence of other fin- gers’ motion. These findings demonstrate that synchro- nization accuracy in music performance is influenced by both the timing and modality of sensory informa- tion that occurs between beats.

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  • Janeen D. Loehr

  • Caroline Palmer

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