The role of melodic and temporal cues in perceiving musical meter.J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2004 Oct; 30(5):956-74.JE
A number of different cues allow listeners to perceive musical meter. Three experiments examined effects of melodic and temporal accents on perceived meter in excerpts from folk songs scored in 6/8 or 3/4 meter. Participants matched excerpts with 1 of 2 metrical drum accompaniments. Melodic accents included contour change, melodic leaps, registral extreme, melodic repetition, and harmonic rhythm. Two experiments with isochronous melodies showed that contour change and melodic repetition predicted judgments. For longer melodies in the 2nd experiment, variables predicted judgments best at the beginning of excerpts. The final experiment, with rhythmically varied melodies, showed that temporal accents, tempo, and contour change were the strongest predictors of meter. The authors' findings suggest that listeners combine multiple melodic and temporal features to perceive musical meter.