Speed on the dance floor : auditory and visual cues for musical tempo
London, J., Burger, B., Thompson, M., & Toiviainen, P. (2016). Speed on the dance floor : auditory and visual cues for musical tempo. Acta Psychologica, 164, 70-80. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.12.005
Published inActa Psychologica
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Elsevier. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
Musical tempo is most strongly associated with the rate of the beat or “tactus,” which may be defined as the most prominent rhythmic periodicity present in the music, typically in a range of 1.67–2 Hz. However, other factors such as rhythmic density, mean rhythmic inter-onset interval, metrical (accentual) structure, and rhythmic complexity can affect perceived tempo (Drake et al., 1999 and London, 2011Drake, Gros, & Penel, 1999; London, 2011). Visual information can also give rise to a perceived beat/tempo (Iversen, et al., 2015), and auditory and visual temporal cues can interact and mutually influence each other (Soto-Faraco and Kingstone, 2004 and Spence, 2015). A five-part experiment was performed to assess the integration of auditory and visual information in judgments of musical tempo. Participants rated the speed of six classic R&B songs on a seven point scale while observing an animated figure dancing to them. Participants were presented with original and time-stretched (± 5%) versions of each song in audio-only, audio + video (A + V), and video-only conditions. In some videos the animations were of spontaneous movements to the different time-stretched versions of each song, and in other videos the animations were of “vigorous” versus “relaxed” interpretations of the same auditory stimulus. Two main results were observed. First, in all conditions with audio, even though participants were able to correctly rank the original vs. time-stretched versions of each song, a song-specific tempo-anchoring effect was observed, such that sped-up versions of slower songs were judged to be faster than slowed-down versions of faster songs, even when their objective beat rates were the same. Second, when viewing a vigorous dancing figure in the A + V condition, participants gave faster tempo ratings than from the audio alone or when viewing the same audio with a relaxed dancing figure. The implications of this illusory tempo percept for cross-modal sensory integration and working memory are discussed, and an “energistic” account of tempo perception is proposed. ...