Proceedings of the Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM). 2015, 432-436
Certain traditional Norwegian and Swedish dance tunes in triple meter are referred to as being in so-called asymmetrical meter—that is, the three beats in the measure are of uneven duration. Norwegian telespringar is recognized for a type of asymmetrical meter featuring a systematic long–medium–short duration pattern at beat level. These systematic microtiming patterns are often described in terms of deviations from an underlying isochronous pulse. However, it has been argued that performers’ body motion may offer a more perceptually relevant structure of reference than an abstract fixed clock pulse. This study investigates whether the asymmetrical beat patterns previously shown in telespringar music are also represented in the body motion of performers who are playing and dancing. It is reported from two motion capture studies: first, a fiddler playing telespringar on a traditional Hardanger fiddle; second, a couple dancing telespringar. Motion analysis of the fiddler’s foot stamping indicates a very regular long–medium–short beat pattern. In addition, the fiddler’s upper-body swaying and the vertical motion of the body’s center of gravity in telespringar dancing are in synchrony with the bar level of the music. The fiddler’s foot stamping confirm the long–medium–short beat duration hypothesis and support the view that the systematic microtiming features in telespringar are not a matter of deviation from an underlying isochronous pulse. Instead, they actually constitute an essential feature of telespringar.