Aug 042012

How should we humanize? In Göttingen, Germany, laboratory researchers analyzed human rhythm. They have found out that the deviations from the strict, perfect beat are not entirely random, and they do not happen on a short time scale as it was previously assumed and used in computer programs, including the vast majority of drum software and sequencers.

Humanize or randomize?

Courtesy of Agbenyega Attiogbe-Redlich,

The test drummer in the laboratory was either playing ahead or behind the beat of the metronome by 10 – 20 milliseconds for about half a minute, then it changed, so the behind the beat hits turned into ahead of the beat hits. These slow changes seem to be pleasant to the listeners.

The physicists suspect that the biorhythm of our own neurons is related to the rhythm of the music we can produce, and the fluctuations in the human rhythm seem to outline fractal patterns.

They also arranged a test where 64 percent of the participants preferred rhythms that utilized the new, fractal-like long range fluctuations as opposed to the old style, random humanization method. 79 percent of the listeners described the new humanization method “more precise” as well.

Holger Hennig, the first author of the study says “There are different clocks in the brain, clocks on different timescales, like circadian clocks on a 24-hour timescale. However, for the millisecond regime it is totally unknown which neuronal network allows the human to be so precise.”

However, I suspect we will see a change in the “humanize” function of many drum software in the near future.

“When the beat goes off”

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