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[AUDITORY] Note durations in music

On Jun 14, 2013, at 11:10 AM, Smith, Nicholas A. wrote:

I misread your request--you weren't interested in average duration broken down by pitch class. For note duration in general, Fraisse (1963, "The Psychology of Time", p. 89), he cites his own work, though I don't know how he arrived at these values and whether the original gives any information about distribution.

"It will be noticed in music that the notes on which the organization of the melodic theme is based usually vary in duration, according to the composer and the piece, from 0.15 to 0.90 seconds (Fraisse, "Les structures rhythmiques", 1956, p. 118)"

There has been an experimental determination of the range of notes/sec required for identification of familiar melodies:  Warren, Gardner, Brubaker, and Bashford, "Melodic and Nonmelodic Sequences of Tones: Effects of Duration on Perception, Music Perception, 1991, 8, 277-290.  The median range from 0.16 to 1.28 notes/sec was required for recognition of familiar melodies by college students.  The relation of music to speech and other serial orders of sounds was elaborated in a chapter entitled, "Perception of Acoustic Sequences," in R.M. Warren, Auditory Perception, Cambridge University Press (3rd edition), 2008, pp. 126-149.

Richard M. Warren 
Research Professor 
  and Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Psychology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI  53201
(414) 229-5328