We explored the development of children's ability to relate musical forms to extramusical concepts. In Experiment 1, we presented four excerpts from Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and asked 4-and 6-yearold children to match each excerpt to a picture of a wolf, bird, cat, or duck (four-alternative forced choice). Children matched appropriate animal pictures to musical excerpts significantly better than chance but identified the wolf and bird more readily than the cat and duck excerpts. In Experiment 2, 3-year-olds participated in a simplified version of the task (two-alternative forced choice). The order of difficulty of matching the various music-animal pairs was comparable across all age groups. In Experiment 3, we replicated Experiment 1 with less familiar music, specifically Saint Saen's Carnival of the Animals. Again, performance was above chance, increasing the likelihood that children's success in Experiments 1 and 2 was not attributable to previous exposure to the music. We discuss the results in relation to theories of musical meaning.


Bever, T. G. A cognitive theory of emotion and aesthetics in music. Psychomusicology, 1988, 7, 165-175.
Bishop, Y. M. M., Fienberg, S. E., & Holland, P. W. Discrete multivariate analysis: Theory and practice. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1975.
Cooke, D. The language of music. London: Oxford University Press, 1959.
Cupchik, G. C, Rickert, M., ôc Mendelson, J. Similarity and preference judgments of musical stimuli. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 1982. 23, 273-282.
Dowling, W. J., &; Harwood, D. L. Music cognition. Orlando, FL: Academic Press, 1986.
Farnsworth, P. R. A study of the Hevner adjective list. Journal of Aesthetic Art Criticism, 1954, 13, 97-103.
Fernald, A. Intonation and communicative intent in mothers' speech to infants. Is the melody the message? Child Development, 1989, 60, 1497-1510.
Fernald, A. Meaningful melodies in mothers' speech to infants. In H. Papoušek, U. Jurgens, & M. Papoušek (Eds.), Origins and development of nonverbal vocal communications: Evolutionary, comparative, and methodological aspects. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- versity Press, (in press)
Gabriel, C, ÔC Crickmore, L. Emotion and music. Psychology of Music, 1977, 5, 28-31.
Gardner, H. Children's sensitivity to musical styles. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 1973a, 19, 67-77.
Gardner, H. The arts and human development. New York: Wiley, 1973b.
Gardner, H. Metaphors and modalities: How children project polar adjectives onto diverse domains. Child Development, 1974, 45, 84-91.
Hacker, M.J., & Ratcliff, R. A revised table for d' for M-alternative forced choice. Perception and Psychophysics, 1979, 26, 168-170.
Hargreaves, D. J. The developmental psychology of music. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- versity Press, 1986.
Hamilton, E., & Cairns, C. (Eds.). Plato: The collected dialogues. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.
Hanslick, E. The beautiful in music. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1885/1957.
Hevner, K. Experimental studies of the elements of expression in music. American Journal of Psychology, 1936, 48, 246-268.
Hevner, K. The affective character of the major and minor modes in music. American Journal of Psychology, 1935, 47, 103-118.
Kirk, R. E. Experimental design: Procedures for the behavioral sciences. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1982.
Langer, S. Philosophy in a new key. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957.
Meyer, L. B. Emotion and meaning in music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956.
Murakami, Y. The stratified semantic structure of music: A proposal of 3-levels hierar- chical model in semantic differential technique. Japanese Psychological Research, 1984, 26, 57-67.
Nordenstreng, K. A comparison between the semantic differential and similarity analysis in the measurement of musical experience. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 1968, 9, 89-96.
Papousek, M., & Papoušek, H. Musical elements in the infant's vocalization: Their sig- nificance for communication, cognition, and creativity. In L. P. Lipsett (Ed.), Advances in infancy research, Vol. 1. Norwood, NI: Ablex, 1981, pp. 163-224.
Pick, A. D. Listening to melodies: Perceiving events. In A. D. Pick (Ed.), Perception and its development. New York: Wiley, 1979.
Senju, M., &; Ohgushi, K. How are the player's ideas conveyed to the audience? Music Perception, 1987, 4, 311-324.
Sloboda, J. A. The musical mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.
Stern, D. N., Spieker, S., & MacKain, K. Intonation contours as signals in maternal speech to prelinguistic infants. Developmental Psychology, 1982, 18, 727-735.
Trehub, S. E. The perception of musical patterns by human infants: The provision of similar patterns by their parents. In M. A. Berkley & W. C. Stebbins (Eds.), Com- parative Perception, Vol. 1: Basic mechanisms. New York: Wiley-Interscience, 1990, Da 429-459.
Trehub, S. E., Cohen, A. J., & Guerriero, M. Development of sensitivity to the emotional meaning of music. Proceedings of the 12th International Congress on Acoustics, Tor- onto, 1986, Volume III, K52.
Trehub, S. E., & Trainor, L. J. Preschoolers' understanding of the attributes of musical sound. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development, Kansas City, MO, April 1989.
Wedin, L. A multidimensional study of perceptual-emotional qualities in music. Scandi- navian Journal of Psychology, 1972, 13, 241-257.
This content is only available via PDF.