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Resonance and Entrainment in the Synchronous Reproduction of Musical Pulse: Developments in Childhood

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  • UserLeon van Noorden, Institute for Psycho-acoustics and Electronic Music (IPEM) Ghent University World_link
  • ClockMonday 16 December 2013, 18:00-19:30
  • HouseFaculty of Music, Lecture Room 1.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Professor Ian Cross.

Van Noorden and Moelants (1999) postulated a resonance around 2 Hz in the human perceptual system to explain the range of tempi in which one can perceive a pulse or beat in music. In this paper, the question how this resonance develops in childhood is addressed: Is the resonance already present in young children? Is it at the same tempo range and is it weaker or stronger than in adults? To answer these questions an experiment was performed on how well children between the ages of 3 and 11 years (N=421), can synchronise their tapping to the beat of common children’s songs with a tempo of 80 to 160 beats per minute. To make sure that even the youngest children could understand the task an avatar tapping along with the pulse of the music was projected during part of each song. To the children from feeling alone in front of the experimenters (which can be a problem for the youngest ones) they did the tapping in groups of 4. The seating had two conditions: seeing their peers and not seeing their peers. It was confirmed that children aged 3 and 4 can only tap in a narrow range around 2 Hz. Between the ages of 4 and 7 children expand the range in which they can synchronise, from a little faster, but primarily towards much slower tempi. This supports a resonance model for pulse perception in which the characteristic frequency, near 2 Hz, remains the same, but in which the damping of the resonance increases with age, even up to critical damping. Also, the phase of tapping changes with the tempo according to a resonance model. Seeing their peers helped the children of 4 to 6 years old to perform better on the tapping task, children of 8 to 9 performed worse, especially the boys. I will also discuss some recent analyses on the entrainment between the 4 children.

This talk is part of the Science & Music series.

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