The musical surrounding typical of most non-European/North American population includes some mix of Western, local art or folk music, and hybrid forms combining the two. How do these various musical systems play out in the internalized musical mental schemes of their listeners? Have Western musical schemes been totally internalized in such populations? Here we ask this question in relation to Israeli Arabs (IAs)—one group within the highly understudied Arab musical world. Specifically, we compared the responses of 52 IAs and 34 Israeli Jews (IJs) to 11 harmonic dyads based on intervals from the musical systems of both cultures, and to a harmonic cadence that ended with chords representing five degrees of closure. Both studies show differences between the two groups with the IJs showing typical response patterns of Western listeners, and the IAs showing much less differentiation and only a partial internalization of tonal hierarchies; namely, the differentiation between in-scale and out-of-scale tones. We emphasize that the listening habits of the selected populations should be mapped more consistently in order to understand the statistical regularities in the relevant repertoires. We also point to the need to adjust our experimental materials and methods to better suit these populations.

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