Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.

This relation appears also in the changes presented in beaten rhythms, the unit-groups of which undergo a progressive increase in the number of their components.  The temporal values of these groups do not remain constant, but manifest a slight increase in total duration as the number of component beats is increased, though this increase is but a fraction of the proportional time-value of the added beats.  Parallel with this increase in the time-value of the unit-group goes an increase in the preponderance of the accented element over the intensity of the other members of the group.  Just as, therefore, in rhythms that are heard, the greatest temporal values of the simple group are mediated by accents of the highest intensity, so in expressed rhythms those groups having the greatest time-values are marked by the strongest accentuation.

Above the superior limit a rhythm impression may persist, but neither by an increase in the number of elements which the unit group contains, nor by an increase in the rate at which these units follow one another in consciousness.  The nature of the unit itself is transformed, and a totally new adjustment is made to the material of apprehension.  When the number of impressions exceeds eight or ten a second—­subject to individual variations—­the rhythmical consciousness is unable longer to follow the individual beats, a period of confusion ensues, until, as the rate continues to increase, the situation is suddenly clarified by the appearance of a new rhythm superimposed on the old, having as its elements the structural units of the preceding rhythm.  The rate at which the elements of this new rhythm succeed one another, instead of being more rapid than the old, has become relatively slow, and simple groups replace the previous large and complex ones.  Thus, at twelve beats per second the rhythms heard by the subjects in these experiments were of either two, three or four beats, the elements entering into each of these constituent beats being severally three and four in number, as follows: 

TABLE I.

> >
Simple Trochaic, four beats per second:  1 2 3, 4 5 6; 7 8 9,10 11 12.
\___/ \___/ \___/ \______/
>
________ ___________
/ \ / \
Dipodic Trochaic, " " " " 1 2 3, 4 5 6; 7 8 9,10 11 12.
\__/ \__/ \___/ \________/
>>>
Simple Dactylic, three " " " 1 2 3 4, 5 6 7 8, 9 10 11 12.
\____/ \____/ \_______/

The only impression of rhythm here received was of a trochaic or dactylic measure, depending upon an accent which characterized a group and not a single beat, and which recurred only twice or thrice a second.  Sometimes the subjects were wholly unaware that the elements of the rhythm were not simple, a most significant fact, and frequently the number reported present was one half of the actual number given.  During the continuance of such a series the rhythm form changes frequently in the apprehension of the individual subject from one to another of the types described above.

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