What makes a rhythm “regular enough” so that it can give rise to metric entrainment? Many non-western musics involve non-isochronous (NI) meters (also known as complex or additive meters), based on cycles of a prime number of rapid articulations (e.g., 7, 11) or uneven divisions of non-prime cycles (e.g., 9 divided 2+2+2+3); other musical styles, both western and non-western, involve uneven beat subdivisions. To account for these kinds of rhythms, an additional set of well-formedness constraints, based upon maximal evenness, is given. It is argued that maximal evenness gives rise to optimal entrainment/sensorimotor behaviors. The prevalence for most NI meters to use beats in a 2:3 durational ratio is explained in terms of more general constraints on beat formation (i.e., the speed limits for beat subdivisions and for beats to have similar temporal magnitude). As one may permute or rotate a series of uneven beats, there is an additional “ordering constraint” on NI-metrical types. Accent in the context of NI meters is also considered.
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