Pattern and Variation in the Timing of Aksak Meter: Commentary on Goldberg

Rainer Polak


In a chronometric timing study of percussive accompaniment in two recorded live performances from south-eastern Europe, Daniel Goldberg (2015) focuses on timing variations that relate to several levels of grouping structure and musical form. This commentary puts the target study into the context of performance timing research, confirms its empirical validity by a replication of core findings using a slightly different chronometric protocol, and finds a systematic variation of same-category durations within each bar, suggesting that a metric timing pattern (London 2012) might play a role. Finally, I argue that Goldberg’s analysis speaks of both variation and stability of performance timing patterns. While this statement is near banal, it cannot be easily explained, in the studied context of an asymmetric 3-beat/7-subdivisions aksak meter ( | x . . x . x . | ), by contemporary conceptualizations of the cognitive processes that constitute reference frameworks for musical rhythm performance and perception (e.g., metric projection, beat induction, or dynamic attending).


timing; asymmetric rhythm; non-isochronous meter

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