Several psycholinguistic studies have investigated the influence of local and global semantic contexts on word processing. The first aim of the present study was to examine local and global level contributions to harmonic priming. The second was to test a spreading-activation account of harmonic context effects (Bharucha, 1987). The expectations for the last chord (the target) of eight-chord sequences were varied by simultaneously manipulating the harmonic relationship of the target to the first six chords (global context) and to the seventh chord (local context). Human performances demonstrated that harmonic expectancies are derived from both the global and local levels of musical structure. Bharucha's connectionist model provides a possible account of local and global context effects. In isochronous chord sequences, harmonic priming seems to result from activation spreading via a schematic knowledge of tonal hierarchies.


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