What information do listeners use to “Name that Tune”? This question was investigated in a two-phase experiment. In Phase 1, the participants heard familiar melodies that were played on a note-by-note basis until they were identified. In Phase 2, each note of the melody was analyzed along a variety of musical dimensions. Multiple regression analyses determined which musical characteristics predicted identification performance. Identification was most strongly associated with notes located at phrase boundaries, notes that completed alternating sequences of rising and falling pitches, and metrically accented notes. As well, identification peaked after listeners heard moderate amounts of information (i.e., 5–7 notes). The data suggest that melody identification is a holistic, all-or-none process and that parallels can be drawn between melody and spoken word identification. Implications for current theories, future research, and the relationship between music perception and melody identification are discussed.

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