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Lecture 9

Lecture 9 Readings

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Craig Chambers

Music Acquisition Readings for Week 11 Learning Objectives - Appraise claims about the effects of music on a human fetus - Contrast active and passive forms of learning and discuss their role in musical development - Design studies for evaluating the sensitivity of preverbal infants to various attributes of music - Differentiate musical attributes for which infants show early sensitivity from musical attributes for which sensitivity emerges later in development - Identify and discuss two ways in which early sensitivity to consonance and dissonance is manifested - Describe the development of sensitivity to harmony and key Musical Infants - Human infants begin life with a number of important skills including frequency coding mechanisms and multisensory connections that facilitate arrange of musical behaviors - Infants have a remarkable ability to discriminate pitches and rhythms, which is one of the most basic prerequisites for music appreciation - Through regular and repeated exposure to music, brain structures and representations eventually develop, shaping perceptions and experiences of music - Brain development and the acquisition of musical skill can occur following either active or passive forms of learning - Active learning can lead to the acquisition of expectional motor skills - Like children gradually learn to speak the language of their culture even without formal training, children also acquire the ability to understand and appreciate the music in their environment – a process called enculturation - Enculturation is responsible for some of our most basic musical abilities - Musical development occurs through a continuously evolving interaction between nature and nurture - Personality and temperament play a large role in determining the degree to which individuals interact with their environment, with passive and active learning representing two ends in the continuum of that interaction Music in the Womb - Sensory learning can theoretically start at roughly 25 weeks gestation age), when connections between peripheral sensory organs and the central nervous system being to mature - The intensity of external sounds is attenuated by approximately 30dB by the time it reaches the uterus, and their significance for the fetus is far from clear - The fetus exhibits reliable behavioral responses to acoustic stimulation - A fetus can detect and respond to acoustic stimulation, and some of that stimulation has the potential to influence development - By the third trimester, the fetus can hear, process, and remember musical patterns Investigating Music Perception Among Infants - Infants can detect subtle changes to a melody, as reflected in measures such as head-turn responses, looking times, heart rate, and differential sucking rates - Infants orient their head toward events or objects that they perceive to be novel - Habituation is the process by which an infant becomes familiar with a novel stimulus novelty is observed o To elicit a habituation response, the researcher presents an infant with several repeated exposures to the same stimulus o Initially the stimulus will be perceived as novel and will elicit a response such as looking in the direction of the stimulus o Eventually the infant will seem to become bored with the stimulus and look away, at which point habituation is said to have occurred - If the infant is able to perceive the change, the stimulus will again elicit a response such as looking at the stimulus, at which point dishabituation is said to have occurred Melodic Contour - Even before the age of 1, infants are capable of perceiving and remembering melodies that they hear, but they are not very sensitive to precise changes in pitch - Early stages of development infants are primarily sensitive to melodic contour o Studies confirmed that contour changes are highly noticeable for infants, whereas changes that maintain contour but alter other musical features such as absolute pitch or interval size often go unnoticed - It has been suggested that infants are born with a heightened sensitivity to pitch contour because it is adaptive significance in speech - Mothers speak to their infants using exaggerated intonation patterns, a mode of speaking called infant-directed speech or motherese o The exaggerated use of pitch contour in infant-directed speech functions like a primitive communication system - The structure of infant-directed speech is remarkably similar across cultures, and early sensitivity to contour patterns in speech may have two important implications for development o It might enhance bonding between infants and their caregivers, because it reinforces the nature of emotional interactions o It may facilitate language acquisition by providing an emotional context for semantic messages, by drawing attention to word and phrase boundaries Consonance and Dissonance - The ability to distinguish consonance and dissonance is basic to music experience - Consonant events are typically described as warm, peaceful and harmonious o Associated with a sense of resolution and relaxation - Dissonant events provide an aesthetic contrast and suggest tension, edginess, and discord - This sensitivity has been especially evident for two types of responses: discrimination and preference Discrimination of Consonant and Dissonant Intervals - Research suggests that infants have a natural ability to discriminate combinations of tones on the basis of their consonance or dissonance - Nonhuman animals can readily differentiate consonant and dissonant tone combination o This sensitivity probably arises as a natural consequence of peripheral auditory mechanisms in mammals - Dissonant intervals give rise to sensory interactions and the sensation of roughness - Sensation of roughness is not subjective or uniquely human, but merely a direct consequence of certain sound combinations impinging on the mammalian auditory system Preference for Consonant Intervals - Infants reliably find consonant intervals to be more pleasant sounding than dissonant intervals - Infants do have preferences for consonant intervals over
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