People commonly use words like “find”, “hold”, “keep”, “have”, and “drop” in reference to the musical beat. While such language implies that musical beats exist in an empirically observable, externalised way—and even though such things as drums, claves, and even beat-finding algorithms would appear to support this impression—the musical beat exists primarily in our perception. This becomes most evident when people with different backgrounds perceive different musical beats while listening to the same music. Simply put, not everyone moves to the same beat. This is true both at the behavioural and at the neural level.
This fact holds significant implications for a musical approach to neuromodulation. Unlike neural entrainment to a simple stimulus, like a click train, neuromodulation to music takes place across multiple hierarchically structured and nested timescales. While this rich structure holds strong potential to enhance entrainment, it also can be interpreted by our perceptual systems in multiple ways based on individual cultural background and acuity of rhythm perception. In this way, biological realities are culture dependent.
This presentation explores the temporal dynamics of different rhythmic structures from different music cultures, and the intersensory mechanisms through which they are perceived and learned, predisposing individuals to respond variably to musical stimuli. Further, this presentation proposes methods by which differences in cultural background and rhythmic acuity can be accounted for in a system for musical neuromodulation.