Three experiments are described that investigate listeners' perceptions of the segmentation of a piece of atonal piano music, the location of segments extracted from the piece, and the duration and structural qualities of each segment. The experiments showed that listeners segmented the music in broad agreement with the grouping principles proposed by Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983) and perceived the location of randomly presented segments of the music in a strongly veridical manner. Listeners' location judgments did, however, show systematic departures from veridicality, segments towards the beginning and end of the piece appearing to be located closer to the center of the piece than was actually the case. Judgments of the duration of extracted segments also were strongly veridical and were unaffected by concurrent ratings of structural properties of the segments. In order to assess possible effects of the unfamiliar musical style, the same three experiments were carried out on a piece of tonal piano music of comparable length, yielding essentially identical results. It is argued that the pattern of departures from veridicality in the location judgments for both pieces may indicate systematic changes in attention in the course of listening to the music, linked to large-scale properties of musical structure that are found in music from a variety of styles and periods. The independence of the segmental duration judgments from structural properties of the music may be a consequence of the performance skills of the musically trained listeners used in this study (a sense of absolute tempo is one of the abilities that a performer must acquire) and/or the particular methods used in the experiments.

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