An Experimental Investigation of Rhythmic Irrationality

in Greek and Roman Musical Studies
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The present paper investigates ‘rhythmic irrationality’ in the medium of recited ‘word’, as this is defined by Aristoxenos and Dionysios Halikarnasseus in three rhythmic contexts: that of the anapaest, of the dactyl, and of the trochee (choreios). For this purpose, computer experiments have been devised, one for each of the aforementioned irrationalities: against the background of a monitored metronome, a line in each rhythm is initially recited in the rational mode. The line is subsequently recited another seven times, with the podic duration which is to suffer diminution or augmentation, in steps of eighths of the time unit. The eight vocal renderings of each line are then assessed psychoacoustically, in order to locate: (a) the point at which our hearing detects the onset of irrationality, and (b) the point at which a shift from the original rhythm to another is sensed.



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