Tatum (music)

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A Tatum [1] is the "lowest regular pulse train that a listener intuitively infers from the timing of perceived musical events: a time quantum. It is roughly equivalent to the time division that most highly coincides with note onsets". It can be computed by using a histogram of inter-onset intervals.

The term was coined by J. A. Bilmes in an MIT Master's thesis Timing is of essence published in 1993[2], and named after the influential jazz musician Art Tatum.


  1. ^ Tristan Jehan, Creating Music By Listening. PhD Thesis, MIT 2005, section 3.4.3
  2. ^ Bilmes, Jeffery Adam (6 August 1993). "Timing is of the Essence" (PDF). washington.edu. Washington University. Retrieved 11 January 2017. When I asked Barry Vercoe if this concept had a term, he felicitously replied 'Not until now. Call it temporal atom, or tatom.' So, in honor of Art Tatum, whose tatum was faster than all others, I chose the word tatum.