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Chapter 12 Extension: Music Perception

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Western University
Psychology 2115A/B
Christine Tsang

Chapter 12 Extension: Music Perception By the end of this section, you should know:  Fundamentals of music (melodic structure)  Music vs. language processing  Origins of music ability  Music and extra-musical abilities What is Music?  Music cognition and perception o The scientific study of mental and neural operations underlying music listening, music making, moving to music (dance) and musical composition  Music processing as a human behaviour/ability is very complex  Higher cognitive ability that engages multiple areas of the brain  Utilizes many distinct behavioural responses Music Fundamentals – Pitch Components  Pitch: psychological analogue to frequency discrimination/processing o Basic fundamental features of sound contain pitch, loudness, and duration o Our perception of how long something seems to be is sometimes related to its actual length in time and sometimes not (duration)  Musical tone: tones that have perceived pitch to the listener o In music, we combine these musical tones (pitches) together in a sequence  Musical interval o When more than one pitch is present, the sequence in pitches defines the musical interval  Music contour o The direction of movement in a sequence of pitches (up, down, same) without regard to the actual size of the intervals present o Musical contour created by melodies  Melody o Pattern or relation of successive pitches over time o When we have more than one pitch, we call this a melody Music Fundamentals: Rhythm Components  Because pitches are folded over time, we can change when they are occurring over time  Rhythm: the pattern of pulses that are caused by weak or strong beats  Tempo: the overall speed of the rhythmic pattern  Meter: the way in which tones are perceived to be temporally grouped or organized Melody Processing  Relationship between pitches in a melody is important, not the absolute pitch of each tone  Melodies are “transposable” objects o Melodies are abstract objects in our mind o The fact that these melodies are „transposable‟ objects – same kind of object invariance that visual forms have for us as well  Melodies seen as auditory object by Gestalt psychologists – the interval between pitches in a particular melody is important, but its not the actual frequency or pitch in the actual tone it is the distance between them that matters the most to us How do we Process Melody?  Something about how we abstract the pitch relations in a melody that is important  Constructivist view: melodies are defined by the relationship that exists between two pitches  Record keeping view: melodies have precise, absolute pitches o Defined by the actual pitch itself  We know from the cognitive literature in memory studies that human memory is less about absolute things and more about the gist o Our memories are more constructed about what we think about going on more than an accurate record of what has actually happened o Can imply the idea of memory to pitch or melody processing – are we remembering the gist of a melody or the actual component?  White et al. (1960) o Studying how it is that we can recognize the same melody in all sorts of different forms and do so relatively accurately o How much change can our melody perception tolerate? o Tested a whole bunch of very familiar songs but messed up their pitch o The participants were really good at discriminating and recognizing the song o The human auditory system clearly is abstracting frequency – cochlea, auditory nerve, etc. all about pulling out individual frequencies in sound o Yet the frequencies are seen as less important than the relative differences in frequencies Scales and Tonality  Scale: discrete set of tones used within a particular musical style or culture o Text p. 265 – tone height an tone chroma o Can relate this to language – in English, we use a small set of sounds and in Chinese they use a different one o Tone height: our perceptual ability to notice that as pitch increases, frequency increase o Tone chroma: tones with the same ratio frequency seem similar to us/related in some way (e.g. the octave)  Just like in language where we learn a particular set of phonemes that work with your language and you become perceptually insensitive to phonemes outside of that language, we feel the same way with musical scales o
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