Metrical and nonmetrical representations of temporal patterns

Peter J. Essens*, Dirk Jan Povel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Temporal patterns can be classified into two types: those that are conceivable in terms of a metrical framework and those that are not. In this context, a metrical framework is seen as a mental time scale used in specifying the temporal structure of a pattern. Three experiments are reported in which subjects produced or reproduced temporal patterns. The first shows that in spontaneous production subjects use intervals whose durations are in a 2:1 ratio, irrespective of the structure of the pattern. From the two other experiments, in which subjects reproduced temporal patterns with varying interval ratios, it is concluded that: (1) patterns not conceivable in a metrical framework are represented (and consequently reproduced) poorly, unless the intervals are 2:1 related, and (2) patterns conceivable in a metrical framework are represented and reproduced accurately. Implications for a theory of temporal patterns are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-1985

Cite this