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Re: maximum 'tatum' speed perception

In the message dated Mon, 08 Apr 2002 12:28:32 PDT
  Bruno Repp <repp@ALVIN.HASKINS.YALE.EDU> writes:
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
>(Revised version of a message I sent last week to Brian only.)
>In response to Brian Whitman's question:
>It depends on what you mean by "identify". If you mean either the
>ability to count the number of events accurately or to synchronize a
>motor activity (such as finger taps) with selected events, then the
>rate limit seems to be 8-10 Hz. Regarding the counting limit, see
>Taubman, R. E. (1950a). Studies in judged number: I. The judgment of
>auditory number. Journal of General Psychology, 43, 167-194.
>Regarding the rate limit for sensorimotor synchronization, I have
>investigated this in a recent study, which has been submitted for
>publication. I'd be happy to send the manuscript to anyone who is
>interested. See also
>Bartlett, N. R., & Bartlett, S. C. (1959). Synchronization of a motor
>response with an anticipated sensory event. Psychological Review, 66,
>At rates faster than 8-10 Hz, it seems to be difficult or impossible
>to respond to successive sounds as individual events.

Actually, I would surmise that 8-10Hz is a fairly large underestimate
of the maximum rate at which tatum perception can occur. Certainly Art
Tatum, for whom the term tatum was named, had a tatum rate that far
exceeded 10Hz (it was probably around 13-16Hz, or possibly higher). In
many "grove"-based musical settings, the tatum rate of an ensemble of
musicians can also far exceed 10Hz --- there are numerous examples in
Jazz and African-based music (and classical, think of Liszt, or even
Chopin to name but a few) where this is the case (I believe this was
also mentioned by Jim Beauchamp earlier in the thread).

I'm not aware of any studies that thoroughly measure the maximum
'tatum' rate, but I would guess that it would differ significantly
between musicians and non-musicians. It would even differ within
groups of trained musicians depending on the style of music in which
they were trained, the degree to which they were trained in that
style, the specific rhythmic pattern that is used to convey the tatum
rate to the musician (e.g., rhythmic density and syncopation), how the
perception of tatum rate is elicited from the musician, and the
musician's own individual preferences. The variances of the measure of
this rate therefore would be somewhat high unless one were to
carefully control for these confounding factors. I hope someone
conducts (and is able to get funding :) for such a study at some


                        -- Jeff

|            Jeff A. Bilmes, Assistant Professor                       |
| Dept. of EE              Voice: (206) 221-5236                       |
| University of Washington FAX: (206) 543-3842                         |
| Box 352500               Email: bilmes@ee.washington.edu             |
| Seattle, WA  98195-2500  http://www.ee.washington.edu/faculty/bilmes |