Bharucha (1984) defined a cognitive principle, melodic anchoring, that outlines the conditions under which tones are perceived as stable points in a melody. He found that temporal order can determine which of two tones is perceived as being more stable. The experiment described in this article extends Bharucha's work by examining melodic anchoring when melody tones are of unequal duration. Listeners (novices and musicians) heard short, tonally ambiguous melodies that were followed by a musical chord. The listener's task was to rate how well the chord seems to fit the melody. A chord by durational pattern interaction was found. The results indicate that although temporal order is a primary factor in melodic anchoring, duration can facilitate or weaken its effect, depending on how the durational pattern aligns with the pitch sequence of the melody.

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