This experiment was designed to address factors that make repetition of musical themes within a piece recognizable, and to explore the relationship between internal repetition and musical interest. Thirty-seven participants of varied levels of music training listened to Stravinsky’s Symphoniesof Wind Instruments twice and responded to the music in real time. During the first listening, they continuously rated their level of interest and at the same time mentally identified the major themes. During the second listening, they indicated when they heard the major themes repeating. One theme was especially well recognized when repeated. It was relatively short, slow, began and ended with a predictable pattern, occurred relatively early in the piece, and was interspersed with other themes. Another theme stood out in the interest ratings, which was relatively long, fast, sometimes repeated immediately with a build-up of instrumentation and dynamics, and occurred later in the piece. In general, themes judged interesting were not those that were easily identified when repeated, suggesting these are independent aspects of this composition. No effect of music training was found. Extensive analyses of Stravinsky’s Symphonies consider how the themes are repeated and interwoven. The experimental results confirmed the musical attributes considered in these analyses.

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