We explore the possibility of studying music perception with responsetime measures. Subjects heard either a chord (tonic triad) or scale prime, followed by a single note, and indicated whether the note did or did not belong in the primed key. Overall, the data resemble the tonal hierarchy previously demonstrated with other methods, thus establishing the validity of the response-time measure. In addition, the scale primes superimpose a recency effect on the standard hierarchy, as would be expected from a serially presented stimulus. We discuss what this implies about tonal hierarchies, and the use of response-time measures to study the online processes of music listening. We also report data for nondiatonic tones.

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