Roger Dooley is the author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing (Wiley). He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and writes at Entrepreneur and Forbes. Learn more at RogerDooley.com, and follow him on Twitter at @rogerdooley.
May a musicologist chime in here? Actually, the kind of metrical shift you suggest in your penultimate paragraph might be just the thing a non-musician would notice, even if s/he couldn’t describe or articulate the change. For example, one of the most striking aspects of the recent iTunes commercial featuring the Fratellis’s tune “Flathead” is that the whole song is in a rather relentless duple meter — everything is divided into two and four. But then when it hits the chorus, the meter unexpectedly (and, for pop music, quite uncharacteristically) changes to 7/8. In layman’s terms, this means if you’re dancing to it, or watching someone dance to it, the footfalls land in a different place — off the beat for a few seconds, then on, then off, then on. This is definitely perceptible to the non-musician, even if s/he can’t quite say what it is that makes the music so delightfull herky-jerky.
(Incidentall, when these sorts of studies are carried out by non-music-scholars, it is VERY difficult to control for variables in a way that would afford any hard conclusions about reactions to this or that particular harmonic or rhythmic perception.)
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