Academic journal article Psychomusicology

Sensitivity to Meter in Auditory Feedback during Music Performance

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

Sensitivity to Meter in Auditory Feedback during Music Performance

Article excerpt

Performance of a complex sequential task, such as speech or music, occurs simultaneously with its perceived outcome, known as auditory feedback. The importance of auditory feedback to the fluency of performance is demonstrated by the disruptive effects of altered auditory feedback (AAF). For instance, it has been know for decades that sequence production (in music and speech) can be disrupted by delayed auditory feedback (DAF), a slight asynchrony between actions and resulting sounds (for reviews see Finney, 1999; Howell, 2004; Pfordresher, 2006; Yates, 1963). Fluency in performance clearly relies on temporal coordination between planned actions and concurrent sounds. It is less clear whether performance relies on the content of auditory feedback, which in a musical context refers to the pitches associated with individual notes.

For some time, it appeared as though performance may not rely on feedback content. For instance, Howell and Archer (1984) found that disruption from DAF was unchanged when speech feedback was converted to an amplitude-modulated square-wave tone. Finney (1997) further demonstrated that pianists' performances of Bach inventions did not suffer when pitch content was altered in a random-like way. These observations are consistent with Howell's claim that DAF effects result from displacement of auditory rhythms, relative to the rhythmic coordination of actions (Howell, 2001, 2004; Howell, Powell, & Khan, 1983; Howell & Sackin, 2002).

However, Pfordresher (2003) introduced an AAF manipulation of pitch content that can disrupt production, referred to as a serial shift. In contrast to other manipulations of content, serial shifts involve presenting pitches from a planned melody (i.e., a sequence of actions that are associated with a sequence of anticipated pitch events) at an alternate serial position. For instance, a lag-1 serial shift causes the feedback pitch heard at each keypress to match what the performer produced at the previous keypress. As such the feedback melody is serially shifted relative to the planned melody. Serial shifts lead to increased pitch errors in performance, while sparing produced timing (Pfordresher, 2003), can disrupt performance of both pianists and nonpianists (Pfordresher, 2005), can lead to disruption of music performance via keyboard or singing (Pfordresher & Mantell, 2012), and can also disrupt the accuracy of speech production (Pruitt & Pfordresher, 2015). It is important to note that serial shifts are distinct from traditional DAF, even though serial shifts may refer to previous events. For instance, hearing serially shifted pitches from future positions also disrupts performance (Pfordresher & Palmer, 2006).

Although the effect of serial shifts does demonstrate sensitivity to pitch content, this effect alone does not rule out the possibility that their disruptive effect is to some extent based on rhythmic relationships between perception and action. It has often been observed that the patterning of pitch content can convey rhythmic information through melodic accents (Cooper & Meyer, 1960; Ellis & Jones, 2009; Jones, 1987), including breaks or pivots in the melodic contour (for examples, see Handel, 1989, p. 398), and the use of parallelism in broader pitch patterns (Acevedo, Temperley, & Pfordresher, 2014; Deutsch & Feroe, 1981; Steedman, 1977; Temperley & Bartlette, 2002).

We adopted these features to create stimuli for the present study. Notation for the four melodies we used are shown in Figure 1 along with their meter, represented as a grid. Metrical accents are associated with positions that have higher columns of X's above them. Melodies were created to match either a binary (4/4) or a ternary (3/4) metrical structure. The first binary melody (Figure IA) used breaks in the melodic contour to signal metrical boundaries, whereas the second binary melody includes a recurring pattern structure based on an alternating melodic contour that is inverted in the second measure. …

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