# Activity 5

In this activity, you will design a simple single-factor experiment to investigate a problem related to the perception or production of rhythmic patterns. As with earlier activities, you are free to collaborate with other students in the class, as long as you let us know. You may come up with the problem to be investigated yourself or select from the following list:
• Does musical training affect the ability to tap out complex ratios (see Collier and Wright)?
• Is there a clear division between simple and complex ratios, or is this a matter of degree?
• Can people distinguish between a notated 2:4 and a 4:4 meter? 2:4 meter is one in which there are simply alternating strong and weak beats; that is, there are only two hierarchical levels to the meter. 4:4 meter is like 2:4 meter, except that there are three degrees of strength: S w s w S w s w ... (where "w" means "weak", "s" means "somewhat strong," and "S" means "very strong"). Thus there are three hierarchical levels to the meter.
• Are people as good at tapping/beating with there non-dominant hand as with their dominant hand?
• Do drum machine rhythms, which produce perfectly spaced beats, sound as "good" as those of real drummers, which sometimes deviate from even spacing?
• Does training improve the ability of inexperienced people to perceive or produce rhythms which are not divisible into evenly spaced groups of two or three, for example, 5-beat (3+2 or 2+3) or 7-beat (3+2+2, 2+2+3, or 2+3+2) rhythms?
• Does cultural background affect the ability to perform polyrhythms?
• Does cultural background affect the ability to discriminate polyrhythms?
• Does preferred tempo vary with cultural background?
• Can training on patterns at a particular tempo temporarily change preferred tempo?
1. Describe in a paragraph or two why this topic is interesting and how it relates to other areas in the study of rhythm.
2. Specify a hypothesis, a statement of what sort of result you would predict.
3. Say what the independent and dependent variables in the experiment are.
4. Tell how you will run the experiment.
• What subjects will you use?
• Will you use a between-subjects or a within-subjects design?
• What sort of stimuli will you use? How will they be presented?
• Are there any confounding variables?
• How will you measure the dependent variable?
5. Tell what sort of results, positive and negative, that you might get from the experiment.

Last updated: 30 October 1995
URL: http://www.indiana.edu/~gasser/activity5.html