An investigation into the possible origins and nature of any preferential tempi in musical performance.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:14 by Peter John Lewis. Brown
In PART A an attempt was made to outline the total Background to performing tempi. The possible relevant areas of Time and Rhythm Psychology, Physiology, Personality and Movement Speeds, together with the many musical factors concerned, were detailed, and the literature reviewed. It was noted that multiples and fractions of 750 msecs frequently occurred in connection with the psychophysical parameters of discrimination and preference, and further that this figure is the duration equivalent of the traditional "normal" tempo of c. MM 80. Tempo origins and availability were discussed, together with the definitions of "choice" and "preference". Finally, the limited directly related experimental literature was supplemented by general views and answers to a questionnaire. The experimental work in PART B was designed to test the following hypothesis:- Within the broad range of speeds appropriate for any total musical situation, a musician has one or more relatively precise discrete preferences. These change consistently when any individual, musical or performing factors are varied. Because of the inevitable artificiality of the musical circumstances and the emphasis on one principal subject (the writer), conclusions must be tentative and preclude automatic universal application:- 1) The Hypothesis was generally supported. Individual mean tempi were significantly changed when the selected musical, instrumental or performing factors were varied. However, although intra-subject relative tempo preferences were consistent, not all subjects reacted in the same way to any given change. Several experiments supported the view that tempo choice is limited to different discretely available movement tempi in each total performing situation. 2) Factors affecting tempo production may have a corresponding implication for tempo estimation. 3) MM 80, the "normal" tempo, had no significance in relation to the experimental performances; neither could any other single tempo be associated unconditionally with one or more subjects, nor with any given musical circumstances.