Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 757 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.

But this is not the sole determinant of the numerical limits of the simple group in such objective rhythms.  The structural unit must indeed adhere to the scheme given by the period of the recurrent accentuation; but the point at which simple successions of this figure give place to complex structures (at which | >q. q q_| is replaced by | >q. q q;_q. q q_|, for example) may conceivably be hastened or retarded by other factors than that of the simple rate of succession.  The degrees of segregation and accentuation which characterize the rhythmic unit are elements which may thus affect the higher synthesis.  Increase in either of these directions gives greater definition to the rhythmic figure and should tend to preserve the simple group in consciousness.  The latter relation was not made the subject of special investigation in this research.  The former was taken up at a single point.  The sounds were two in number, alternately accented and unaccented, produced by hammer-falls of 7/8 and 1/8 inch respectively.  These were given at three rates of succession, and three different degrees of segregation were compared together.  In the following table is given, for six subjects, the average number of elements entering into the group-form, simple or complex, under which the rhythm was apprehended: 


Ratio of Beat-interval Value in Seconds of Average Interval, to Group-interval. 5/12 3/12 2/12 1.000:  1.400 3.5 5.3 9.0 1.000:  1.000 4.0 5.4 9.6 1.000:  0.714 5.2 8.4 10.8

The quantitative relations presented by these figures are consistent throughout.  For every rate of speed the average rhythmic group is smallest when the interval separating the successive groups is at its maximum; it is largest when this interval is at its minimum; while in each case a median value is presented by the relation of uniformity among the intervals.  In the second as well as the first of the ratios included in the foregoing table the interval which separates adjacent groups is felt to be distinctly longer than that internal to the group; in the third the relative durations of the two intervals are those which support psychological uniformity.  In the latter case, in consequence of the freer passage from group to group, the continuity of the rhythmical series is more perfectly preserved than in the former, and the integration of its elements into higher syntheses more extended.

The extension of the numerical limits of the rhythm group in subjective rhythm which appear in consequence of progressive acceleration in the rate of succession is given for a series of six different values of the separating intervals in the following table, the figures of which represent the average for six observers: 


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Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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