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Context-specific Knowledge Is the “Key” to Salsa Music

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Abstract

Introduction Previous research has shown ways in which both formal training and informal exposure affect perceptual experience and the development of musical abilities. Here we asked what types of training and exposure are necessary to acquire the context-specific knowledge associated with expertise. We specifically focused on the perception of salsa music: a genre that is rich in rhythmic complexity, but has received relatively little attention in experimental settings. Methods We examined specific groups within the exposure and training populations: those with musical training in the production of salsa rhythms (Study 1) and “native listeners” who grew up listening to salsa music without formal training (Study 2). Using two clave patterns (3–2 and 2–3 son clave) and three constructed alternatives, we asked participants to choose the correct clave pattern for a variety of music excerpts. Results We found that informal listening exposure was not enough to detect the salsa–clave pairings. Instead, proficiency was only developed when training and exposure were both domain-specific. Discussion Our results show the importance of deliberate training and the degree to which expertise comes to fruition through context-specific focus, thus helping to illuminate the complex relationship between the local and the universal in musical-cultural experience.

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Abstract The cognitive strategies by which humans process complex, metrically-ambiguous rhythmic patterns remain poorly understood. We investigated listeners' abilities to perceive, process and produce complex, syncopated rhythmic patterns played against a regular sequence of pulses. Rhythmic complexity,was varied along a continuum; complexity,was quantified using an objective metric of syncopation suggested by Longuet-Higgins and Lee. We used a recognition memory,task to assess the immediate,and longer-term perceptual salience and memorability,of rhythmic,patterns. The tasks required subjects to (a) tap in time to the rhythms, (b) reproduce these same rhythm patterns given a steady pulse, and (c) recognize these patterns when replayed both immediately after the other tasks, and after a 24-hour delay. Subjects tended to reset the phase of their internally generated pulse with highly complex, syncopated rhythms, often pursuing a strategy of reinterpreting or "re-hearing" the rhythm as less syncopated. Thus, greater complexity in rhythmic stimuli leads to a reorganization of the cognitive representation of the temporal structure of events. Less complex rhythms,were also more,robustly encoded,into long-term memory,than more,complex,syncopated rhythms,in the delayed memory,task. 3
Article
THE PRESENT STUDY WAS DESIGNED to examine the general notion that temporal information processing is more accurate in musicians than in nonmusicians. For this purpose, 36 academically trained musicians and 36 nonmusicians performed seven different auditory temporal tasks. Superior temporal acuity for musicians compared to nonmusicians was shown for auditory fusion, rhythm perception, and three temporal discrimination tasks. The two groups did not differ, however, in terms of their performance on two tasks of temporal generalization. Musicians' superior performance appeared to be limited to aspects of timing which are considered to be automatically and immediately derived from online perceptual processing of temporal information. Unlike immediate online processing of temporal information, temporal generalizations, which involve a reference memory of sorts, seemed not to be influenced by extensive music training.
Article
This paper is the result of a collaboration between an ethnomusicologist (Henry Stobart) and music psychologist (Ian Cross). It examines the interaction of a variety of processes underlying the rhythmic structure and perception of a song genre of the Bolivian Andes: these include linguistic prosody, movement patterns, perceptual constraints and the dynamics of the culture's musical aesthetics. The “Easter songs “ which form the focus of this study, present particular problems of rhythmic perception for outsiders to the culture (such as the authors), who often tend to misperceive these songs as anacrustic. This phenomenon is addressed through an exploration of the unequal proportions and accent placement in the charango accompaniment, and an analysis of stress patterns of Quechua (and Aymara), the languages in which these songs are sung. It is shown that the first syllable of a phrase is treated as a functional “downbeat” and, despite outsiders’ perceptions, the anacrusis appears to be absent from the Quechua and Aymara musical genres of the region. The paper questions whether these findings might be relevant to other musical genres of the Andes, and considers the problems of perception in the transcription and analysis of Andean music.
Article
We investigate how the presence of performance microstructure (small variations in timing, intensity, and articulation) influences listeners' perception of musical excerpts, by measuring the way in which listeners synchronize with the excerpts. Musicians and nonmusicians tapped on a drum in synchrony with six musical excerpts, each presented in three versions: mechanical (synthesized from the score, without microstructure), accented (mechanical, with intensity accents), and expressive (performed by a concert pianist, with all types of microstructure). Participants' synchronizations with these excerpts were characterized in terms of three processes described in Mari Riess Jones's Dynamic Attending Theory: attunement (ease of synchronization), use of a referent level (spontaneous synchronization rate), and focal attending (range of synchronization levels). As predicted by beat induction models, synchronization was better with the temporally regular mechanical and accented versions than with the expressive versions. However, synchronization with expressive versions occurred at higher (slower) levels, within a narrower range of synchronization levels, and corresponded more frequently to the theoretically correct metrical hierarchy. We conclude that performance microstructure transmits a particular metrical interpretation to the listener and enables the perceptual organization of events over longer time spans. Compared with nonmusicians, musicians synchronized more accurately (heightened attunement), tapped more slowly (slower referent level), and used a wider range of hierarchical levels when instructed (enhanced focal attending), more often corresponding to the theoretically correct metrical hierarchy. We conclude that musicians perceptually organize events over longer time spans and have a more complete hierarchical representation of the music than do nonmusicians.
Article
To gain insight into the internal representation of temporal patterns, we studied the perception and reproduction of tone sequences in which only the tone-onset intervals were varied. A theory of the processing of such sequences, partly implemented as a computer program, is presented. A basic assumption of the theory is that perceivers try to generate an internal clock while listening to a temporal pattern. This internal clock is of a flexible nature that adapts itself to certain characteristics of the pattern under consideration. The distribution of accented events perceived in the sequence is supposed to determine whether a clock can (and which clock will) be generated internally. Further it is assumed that if a clock is induced in the perceiver, it will be used as a measuring device to specify the temporal structure of the pattern. The nature of this specification is formalized in a tentative coding model. Three experiments are reported that test different aspects of the model. In Experiment 1, subjects reproduced various temporal patterns that only differed structurally in order to test the hypothesis that patterns more readily inducing an internal clock will give rise to more accurate percepts. In Experiment 2, clock induction is manipulated experimentally to test the clock notion more directly. Experiment 3 tests the coding portion of the model by correlating theoretical complexity of temporal patterns based on the coding model with complexity judgments. The experiments yield data that support the theoretical ideas.
Article
Musical training has emerged as a useful framework for the investigation of training-related plasticity in the human brain. Learning to play an instrument is a highly complex task that involves the interaction of several modalities and higher-order cognitive functions and that results in behavioral, structural, and functional changes on time scales ranging from days to years. While early work focused on comparison of musical experts and novices, more recently an increasing number of controlled training studies provide clear experimental evidence for training effects. Here, we review research investigating brain plasticity induced by musical training, highlight common patterns and possible underlying mechanisms of such plasticity, and integrate these studies with findings and models for mechanisms of plasticity in other domains.
Article
The objective of this doctoral essay is to help shed some light on the Afro-Cuban musical style called the Abakuá. This essay traces the development of the Abakuá secret society and its music from its ancestral beginnings in Africa (with the Èfik and Efut Leopard Societies), through its movement into Cuba and the development of the first lodge (in the eighteen hundreds), to its eventual influence in America. This essay also describes the impact the Abakuá has had on music in general, but especially the music of the Cuban Rumba and Afro-Cuban jazz. Detail is given on many different aspects of the Abakuá, including the history, beliefs, and practices of the secret society, the types of ceremonies, the types of drums and rhythms associated with each ceremony, including their purpose, and the influences of Abakuá on rumba and modern music. The essay concludes with an assessment of the development of the drum set and how this instrument has played a part in the music of the Abakuá as well as Afro-Cuban jazz in general. While this essay covers many elements, the focus remains on the drums and rhythms of the Abakuá and how they have influenced others and evolved throughout this process.
Article
Many sequential events, musical rhythms in particular, can be described by a hierarchical structure, with lower order events recursively combining to form higher levels. This study investigated factors influencing the ease of reproduction of short musical rhythms that reflect various organizational principles. For adults and children, reproduction was better for rhythms with the following characteristics: (1) binary rather than ternary subdivision, (2) two rather than three different durations, (3) the ability to be segmented into two shorter rhythms of identical duration, and (4) intensity accents on important hierarchical positions. These findings suggest that a prototypical temporal structure—that is, a regular beat with binary subdivisions—is functional in childhood. The ability to process complex hierarchical structure appeared to be influenced more by musical training than by passive acculturation.
Article
A theory of attentional dynamics is proposed and aimed at explaining how listeners respond to systematic change in everyday events while retaining a general sense of their rhythmic structure. The approach describes attending as the behavior of internal oscillations, called attending rhythms, that are capable of entraining to external events and targeting attentional energy to expected points in time. A mathematical formulation of the theory describes internal oscillations that focus pulses of attending energy and interact in various ways to enable attentional tracking of events with complex rhythms. This approach provides reliable predictions about the role of attending to event time structure in rhythmical events that modulate in rate, as demonstrated in 3 listening experiments.
Article
During the last decades music neuroscience has become a rapidly growing field within the area of neuroscience. Music is particularly well suited for studying neuronal plasticity in the human brain because musical training is more complex and multimodal than most other daily life activities, and because prospective and professional musicians usually pursue the training with high and long-lasting commitment. Therefore, music has increasingly been used as a tool for the investigation of human cognition and its underlying brain mechanisms. Music relates to many brain functions like perception, action, cognition, emotion, learning and memory and therefore music is an ideal tool to investigate how the human brain is working and how different brain functions interact. Novel findings have been obtained in the field of induced cortical plasticity by musical training. The positive effects, which music in its various forms has in the healthy human brain are not only important in the framework of basic neuroscience, but they also will strongly affect the practices in neuro-rehabilitation.
Article
Auditory metre perception refers to the ability to extract a temporally regular pulse and an underlying hierarchical structure of perceptual accents from a sequence of tones. Pulse perception is widely present in humans, and can be measured by the temporal expectancy for prospective tones, which listeners generate when presented with a metrical rhythm. We tested whether musical expertise leads to an increased perception and representation of the hierarchical structure of a metrical rhythm. Musicians and musical novices were tested in a mismatch negativity (MMN) paradigm for their sensitivity to perceptual accents on tones of the same pulse level (metre-congruent deviant) and on tones of a lower hierarchical level (metre-incongruent deviant). The difference between these two perceptual accents was more pronounced in the MMNs of the musicians than in those of the non-musicians. That is, musical expertise includes increased sensitivity to metre, specifically to its hierarchical structure. This enhanced higher-order temporal pattern perception makes musicians ideal models for investigating neural correlates of metre perception and, potentially, of related abstract pattern perception. Finally, our data show that small differences in sensitivity to higher-order patterns can be captured by means of an MMN paradigm.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D. in Technology and the Arts)--University of California, Berkeley, Dec. 1998. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 149-160).
Article
The present study aimed at investigating to what extent sensorimotor synchronization is related to (i) musical specialization, (ii) perceptual discrimination, and (iii) the movement's trajectory. To this end, musicians with different musical expertise (drummers, professional pianists, amateur pianists, singers, and non-musicians) performed an auditory and visual synchronization and a cross-modal temporal discrimination task. During auditory synchronization drummers performed less variably than amateur pianists, singers and non-musicians. In the cross-modal discrimination task drummers showed superior discrimination abilities which were correlated with synchronization variability as well as with the trajectory. These data suggest that (i) the type of specialized musical instrument affects synchronization abilities and (ii) synchronization accuracy is related to perceptual discrimination abilities as well as to (iii) the movement's trajectory. Since particularly synchronization variability was affected by musical expertise, the present data imply that the type of instrument improves accuracy of timekeeping mechanisms.
Article
Meter is considered an important structuring mechanism in the perception and experience of rhythm in music. Combining behavioral and electrophysiological measures, in the present study we investigate whether meter is more likely a learned phenomenon, possibly a result of musical expertise, or whether sensitivity to meter is also active in adult nonmusicians and newborn infants. The results provide evidence that meter induction is active in adult nonmusicians and that beat induction is already functional right after birth.