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International Symposium on Performance Science 2017

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01024

Probing the underlying principles of perceived immanent accents using a modeling approach

  • 1Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  • 2Institut Pasteur, France
  • 3University of Bologna, Italy

This article deals with the question of how the perception of the “immanent accents” can be predicted and modeled. By immanent accents we mean any musical event in the score that is related to important points in the musical structure (e.g. tactus positions, melodic peaks) and is therefore able to capture the attention of a listener. Our aim is to investigate the underlying principles of these accented notes by combining quantitative modeling, music analysis and experimental methods. A listening experiment was conducted where 30 participants indicated perceived accented notes for 60 melodies, vocal and instrumental, selected from Baroque, Romantic and Post-tonal styles. This produced a large and unique collection of perceptual data about the perceived immanent accents, organized by styles consisting of vocal and instrumental melodies within Western art music. The music analysis of the indicated accents provided a preliminary list of musical features that could be identified as possible reasons for the raters’ perception of the immanent accents. These features related to the score in different ways, e.g. repeated fragments, single notes, or overall structure. A modeling approach was used to quantify the influence of feature groups related to pitch contour, tempo, timing, simple phrasing, and meter. A set of 43 computational features was defined from the music analysis and previous studies and extracted from the score representation. The mean ratings of the participants were predicted using multiple linear regression and support vector regression. The latter method using cross-validation obtained the best result of about 66 % explained variance (r = 0.81) across all melodies and for a selected group of raters. The independent contribution of each feature group was relatively high for pitch contour and timing (9.6 and 7.0 %). There were also significant contributions from tempo (4.5%), simple phrasing (4.4%), and meter (3.9%). Interestingly, the independent contribution varied greatly across participants, implying different listener strategies, and also some variability across different styles. The large differences among listeners emphasize the importance of considering the individual listener’s perception in future research in music perception.

Keywords: immanent accent, music analysis, melody, modeling, machine learning

Received: 08 Jul 2018; Accepted: 17 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

David Wasley, Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Steven R. Livingstone, University of Wisconsin–River Falls, United States
Eddy K. Chong, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore  

Copyright: © 2019 Friberg, Bisesi, Addessi and Baroni. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Anders Friberg, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, 10044, Stockholm, Sweden,