A POPULAR THEORY HOLDS THAT "SWING" STEMS specifically from asynchronous timing between bass and drums in their shared articulation of the beat, a phenomenon Charles Keil has dubbed "participatory discrepancies" (PDs; Keil, 1987). The "push and pull" between these instruments purportedly generates a "productive tension" thought to drive the groove with energy. This paper presents the results of two experiments on the perception of PDs. Experiment 1 employed synthetic recordings of a conventional swing groove in which the onset asynchronies between bass and drums were varied. Participants used three listening strategies to perceive the asynchrony and its purported effects. Experiment 2 employed recordings of professional jazz musicians and tested for the effects of learning in the perception of PDs. Little evidence emerged from either experiment in support of the PD framework. An alternative proposal drawn from metric entrainment theory explains the effects of PDs as more limited and local than previously thought.
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