WE INVESTIGATED THE CONTRIBUTION OF TONAL relationships to the perception of musical ideas and to the feelings of "arousal." Two excerpts of piano sonatas by Beethoven and two atonal variants were used as experimental stimuli. This manipulation destroyed the tonal relationships but preserved both the local and global temporal organization (rhythm and formal). Listeners were asked to indicate the onset of musical ideas, to estimate the arousing properties of the music in a continuous response task, and to rate the similarity of the pieces. A drastic change in the pitch structure strongly affected judgments of similarity. However, it had no effect on the segmentation of musical ideas, nor on the response of arousal. This finding emphasizes the importance of local and global levels of temporal structures on perceptual and emotional judgments, at the cost of the influence of tonal relationships.

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