Windsor, W. L., Desain, P., Honing, H., Aarts, R., Heijink, H., and Timmers, R. (2000) On Time: The influence of Tempo, Structure and Style on the Timing of Grace Notes in Skilled Musical Performance. In Desain, P. and Windsor, W. L Rhythm Perception and Production, 217-223, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger


Earlier work on the timing of grace notes in music has suggested that their durations are far from being proportionally related to global tempo. This work also showed that the relationship between their duration and global tempo might interact with the local rhythmic context and the differing functions of particular types of grace notes. Such results seem to go against the notion that expressive timing is relationally invariant across different global tempi for all types of musical events. This earlier work, however, only analysed data at three tempi and across three repetitions at each tempo. The study reported here manipulates the overall tempo of a performance of Beethoven's variations on a Paisiello theme with a much finer grain and over a larger number of repetitions. The timing of the grace notes is analysed with respect to their different functions (e.g. appogiatura; acciaccatura), the local rhythmic context, and global performance tempo. In conclusion, some general principles are suggested for modeling the different relationships between grace note duration, musical structure, and global tempo.

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