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The Influence of the Mother Tongue and of Musical Experience on Rhythm Perception

Kobayashi, Sumio (2020) The Influence of the Mother Tongue and of Musical Experience on Rhythm Perception. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:80715)


Native language and musical experience are both said to influence our perception of rhythm; however, the study of the influence of native language on rhythm perception is limited. This thesis tested if and how linguistic and musical experiences affect our rhythm perception. The term rhythm, as used here, is identical to the musical term, metre, which refers to a recurring regular pattern of prominent and non-prominent elements. First, this thesis examined language-specific rhythms in English, Japanese, and Russian to explore whether listeners are better at detecting irregularities in rhythms that frequently occur in their native language, compared to those that are less frequent. A review of the existing literature and an original, corpus-based examination show that English and Russian rhythms are based on a relatively regular alternation of prominent and non-prominent syllables, whereas Japanese rhythm is based on a subtle alternation of prominent and non-prominent morae, less regular than that of English and Russian rhythms. Similarly, culture-specific musical rhythms are discussed to examine the influence of musical experience on rhythm perception. It is shown that, in traditional Japanese and Russian musical works, non-binary rhythms are prevalent, while they are relatively rare in English music. A series of perceptual experiments with both English, Japanese, and Russian-speaking musicians and non-musicians showed that musical experience affects rhythm perception but is less effective than linguistic experience in shaping responses to rhythm irregularities. These perception experiments showed that Japanese speakers perceived binary and non-binary rhythms more accurately than English and Russian speakers, while there were no significant differences between English and Russian speakers. In addition, it was found that clashes (rhythm irregularities caused by successive prominent elements) were less tolerated than lapses (rhythm irregularities caused by sequences of non-prominent elements). The experimental results showed that all participants tolerated lapses more readily than clashes, which suggests that clashes lead to dysrhythmic sequences that are easier to detect than those of lapses.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: Rhythm, perception
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2020 08:45 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2020 08:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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