A fundamental assumption of distributional key-finding methods is that the frequency distributions of pitch classes in all keys are transpositionally equivalent. We tested this assumption with three experiments. First, using data from the openings of 995 major-key pieces and 596 minor-key pieces in the Yale-Classical Archives Corpus, we found that scale-degree distributions differ significantly from one key to another, and further analysis revealed that pieces keys with signatures having relatively more accidentals exhibit significantly more chromaticism than keys with fewer accidentals. Second, we examined whether these data might be accounted for by different keys’ varying modulation tendencies, and found this to be the case: keys with more accidentals modulate more frequently to more distant keys. Finally, we attempted to exclude modulatory passages from our data using a key profile analysis to identify key and mode within our dataset; however, the results of Experiment 1 still held. In sum, even when using a method that assumes transpositional equivalence, we found a difference between key profiles of different keys.
Much previous work on the perception of pitch contour has concerned itself only with the contour relations among adjacent notes, which may lead to the assumption that relations among nonadjacent tones do not play a role in the mental representation of contour. Music theorists, on the other hand, have developed sophisticated models of contour in which relations among nonadjacent tones play an integral part. In order to test the salience of relations among nonadjacent melodic tones in the perception of melodic contour, musically trained participants were asked to rate the similarity of discrete pairs of stimulus melodies with regard to contour. The results suggest that although contour relations among adjacent tones are more significant than those among nonadjacent tones in determining judgments about contour similarity, nonadjacent contour relations do contribute to such judgments.