The effects of melodic and temporal accents on tempo determination

Research on tempo has concentrated on the concepts of preferred tempo (i.e., spontaneous tapping rate), tempo memory (tempo memory/imagery for familiar songs, or group memory for tempo), and tempo identification/discrimination (the ability to identify or discriminate different tempos). However, there has been very little research on tempo determination, or the process of determining an appropriate tempo for an unfamiliar musical excerpt. This study investigates what melodic characteristics provide contextual cues for appropriate tempo in an unfamiliar melody, including melodic accents such as contour skips and leaps, range, and overall interval size. The salience of these accents will be discussed, and eventually the goal of the research is to provide a model for factors that are used in a tempo determination task.