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:
Your report on your experiment proposal should answer the following.
It should be about 3 pages along and should be typed.
- 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
- 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)
- Does cultural background affect
the ability to perform polyrhythms?
- Does cultural background affect the ability to discriminate
- Does preferred tempo vary with cultural background?
- Can training on patterns at a particular tempo temporarily change
- Describe in a paragraph or two why this topic is interesting
and how it relates to other areas in the study of rhythm.
- Specify a hypothesis, a statement of what sort of result
you would predict.
- Say what the independent and dependent variables in the experiment are.
- 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?
- Tell what sort of results, positive and negative, that you might get
from the experiment.
Take me back to the Rhythm and Cognition
Last updated: 30 October 1995
Copyright 1995, The Trustees of