This study examines possible parallels between large-scale organization in music and discourse structure. Two experiments examine the psychological reality of topics in the first movements of W. A. Mozart's String Quintet No. 3 in C major, K. 515, and L. van Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. Listeners made real-time judgments on three continuous scales: memorability, openness, and amount of emotion. All three kinds of judgments could be accounted for by the topics identified in these pieces by Agawu (1991) independently of the listeners' musical training. The results showed hierarchies of topics. However, these differed for the three tasks and for the two pieces. The topics in the Mozart piece appear to function as a way of establishing the musical form, whereas the topics in the Beethoven piece are more strongly associated with emotional content.
Topic in Music: An Empirical Study of Memorability, Openness, and Emotion in Mozart's String Quintet in C Major and Beethoven's String Quartet in A Minor
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Carol L. Krumhansl; Topic in Music: An Empirical Study of Memorability, Openness, and Emotion in Mozart's String Quintet in C Major and Beethoven's String Quartet in A Minor. Music Perception 1 October 1998; 16 (1): 119–134. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/40285781
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