Smith, L.M. & Honing, H. (2006). Evaluating and extending computational models of rhythmic syncopation in music. Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (pp. 688-691), San Francisco: ICMA.


What makes a rhythm interesting, or even exciting to listeners? While in the literature a wide range of definitions of syncopation exists, few allow for a precise formalization. An exception is Longuet-Higgins and Lee (1984), that proposes a formal definition of syncopation. Interestingly, this model has never been challenged or empirically validated. In this paper the predictions made by this model, along with alternative definitions of metric salience, are compared to existing empirical data consisting of listener ratings on rhythmic complexity. While correlated, noticable outliers suggest processes in addition to syncopation contribute to listeners judgements of complexity.

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