Performing in musical ensembles can be viewed as a dual task that requires simultaneous attention to a high priority �target� auditory pattern (e.g., a performer�s own part) and either (a) another part in the ensemble or (b) the aggregate texture that results when all parts are integrated. The current study tested the hypothesis that metric frameworks (rhythmic schemas) promote the efficient allocation of attentional resources in such multipart musical contexts. Experiment 1 employed a recognition memory paradigm to investigate the effects of attending to metrical versus nonmetrical target patterns upon the perception of aggregate patterns in which they were embedded. Experiment 2 required metrical and nonmetrical target patterns to be reproduced while memorizing different, concurrently presented metrical patterns that were also subsequently reproduced. Both experiments included conditions in which the different patterns within the multipart structure were matched or mismatched in terms of best-fitting meter. Results indicate that dual-task performance was best in matched-metrical conditions, intermediate in mismatched-metrical conditions, and worst in nonmetrical conditions. This suggests that metric frameworks may facilitate complex musical interactions by enabling efficient allocation of attentional resources.
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