Psychoacoustic aspects on the speed in the performance of melodies  

Bisesi E., Vicario G.
First author's affiliation: Università di Udine, Udine, Italy

As anyone knows, performed melodies have to span into a certain speed range. At the same time, it is a fact that musicians base their interpretation just on the possibility of selecting any other velocity within that range, provided that their choice allows to preserve the required expressive content. We tested the effect of different acoustical, musical and structural features of a given melody on the suitability of the chosen speed. Experimental stimuli were seven classical musical pieces differing in musical structure, articulation (legato versus staccato), and phrasing (accelerando versus rallentando). Fourteen trained music students served as subjects. Constant stimuli method was applied in submitting trials varying in speed. Preliminary observations showed the influence of musical structure on the performing velocity, in agreement with previous studies on perceptual grouping (Fraisse, 1956). At the same time, adding expressive (agogical) elements widens the range of possible performing speeds.