Friday, August 12, 2011

Dirk Jan Povel

Today reached me the sad news that one of the Dutch pionieers in rhythm perception research, Dirk Jan Povel, has passed away after an incurable illness.

Povel made an important contribution to our understanding of the perception of rhythmic patterns reported in a number of highly cited studies. He retired from Radboud University and at the Nijmegen Institute for Information and Cognition (NICI) in November 2005. He taught a few thousand students and was deeply involved in theoretical and applied research in a number of fields. Most notably theoretical and applied research related to speech perception and speech production, the perception of temporal patterns and musical rhythms, and the production of serial motor patterns. More recently he has been doing research on the on-line processes of music perception to discover the perceptual mechanisms listeners use in coding music (see for more information here).

ResearchBlogging.orgPovel, D. (1981). Internal representation of simple temporal patterns. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 7 (1), 3-18 DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.7.1.3

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What makes us musical animals? [Part 2]

This week a new essay came out in which I try to make a case for ‘illiterate listening’, the human ability to discern, interpret and appreciate musical nuances. We have known for some time that babies possess a keen perceptual sensitivity for the melodic, rhythmic and dynamic aspects of speech and music: aspects that linguists are inclined to categorize under the term ‘prosody’, but which are in fact the building blocks of music. Only much later in a child’s development does s/he make use of this ‘musical prosody’, for instance in delineating and subsequently recognizing word boundaries. We all share these musical skills, from day one, and long before a single word has been uttered, let alone conceived. It is the preverbal and preliterate stage of our development that is dominated by musical listening.

The Illiterate listener is available online since August 9, 2011. Honing, H. (2011). The illiterate listener. On music cognition, musicality and methodology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.