a novel approach to modeling rhythm and meter perception in music
Musical rhythm, consisting of apparently abstract intervals of accented temporal events,has a remarkable capacity to move our minds and bodies. How does the cognitive systemenable our experiences of rhythmically complex music? In this paper, we describe somecommon forms of rhythmic complexity in music and propose the theory of predictivecoding (PC) as a framework for understanding how rhythm and rhythmic complexit y areprocessed in the brain. We also consider why we feel so compelled by rhythmic tensionin music. First, we consider theories of rhythm and meter perception, which providehierarchical and computational approaches to modeling. Second, we present the theoryof PC, which posits a hierarchical organization of brain responses reﬂecting fundamental,survival-related mechanisms associated with predicting future events. According to thistheory, perception and learning is manifested through the brain’s Bayesian minimizationof the error between the input to the brain and the brain’s prior expectations. Third, wedevelop a PC model of musical rhythm, in which rhythm perception is conceptualized asan interaction between what is heard (“rhythm”) and the brain’s anticipatory structuring ofmusic (“meter”). Finally, we review empirical studies of the neural and behavioral effects ofsyncopation, polyrhythm and groove, and propose how these studies can be seen as specialcases of the PC theory.We argue that musical rhythm exploits the brain’s general principlesof prediction and propose that pleasure and desire for sensorimotor synchronization frommusical rhythm may be a result of such mechanisms.