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1.  Cognitive and affective judgements of syncopated musical themes 
This study investigated cognitive and emotional effects of syncopation, a feature of musical rhythm that produces expectancy violations in the listener by emphasising weak temporal locations and de-emphasising strong locations in metric structure. Stimuli consisting of pairs of unsyncopated and syncopated musical phrases were rated by 35 musicians for perceived complexity, enjoyment, happiness, arousal, and tension. Overall, syncopated patterns were more enjoyed, and rated as happier, than unsyncopated patterns, while differences in perceived tension were unreliable. Complexity and arousal ratings were asymmetric by serial order, increasing when patterns moved from unsyncopated to syncopated, but not significantly changing when order was reversed. These results suggest that syncopation influences emotional valence (positively), and that while syncopated rhythms are objectively more complex than unsyncopated rhythms, this difference is more salient when complexity increases than when it decreases. It is proposed that composers and improvisers may exploit this asymmetry in perceived complexity by favoring formal structures that progress from rhythmically simple to complex, as can be observed in the initial sections of musical forms such as theme and variations.
doi:10.2478/v10053-008-0094-0
PMCID: PMC3259101  PMID: 22253676
syncopation; serial asymmetry; affective response; cognition; rhythm; emotion; musical form

Results 1-1 (1)