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2018 (revised 2020)
Dissertation, 259 pages

Institute for Musicology and Music Informatics (IMWI)
University of Music Karlsruhe

Metric malleability relates to the cognitive flexibility which allows for the construction of different metric frameworks for a particular rhythm. It is also closely related to metric ambiguity, indicating the space of plausible metric interpretations for a given rhythm. Different listeners may construct individual metric frameworks for the same rhythm (metric ambiguity), and different interpretations may compete within individual cognitive processes (metric dissonance or metric conflict). Such conflicts may be purposefully provoked by appropriate musical designs.

The dissertation examines the perceptual and cognitive foundations of these phenomena, and establishes heuristic and formal categories, concerning metric ambiguity, as a basis for a model of metric malleability. Given the complexity of the matter, features of rhythm and meter are reduced to a simple formal level, using a pulse- and cycle-based approach. The model proposes a quantitative heuristics for an individual characterization of the metric malleability of cyclic rhythms, which is exemplarily demonstrated. Thereby, it provides a conceptual basis, as well as implementable tools for generative and analytical applications, intending to address a broader artistic and scientific audience.

Meanwhile the model has become part of an ongoing software project, the development of a creative tool for rhythm design focusing on metric malleability.

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