Despite the plethora of research on the role of tonality and meter in music perception, there is little work on how these fundamental properties function together. The most basic question is whether the two hierarchical structures are correlated – that is, do metrically stable positions in the measure preferentially feature tonally stable pitches, and do tonally stable pitches occur more often than not at metrically stable locations? To answer this question, we analyzed a corpus of compositions by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin, tabulating the frequency of occurrence of each of the 12 pitch classes at all possible temporal positions in the bar. There was a reliable relation between the tonal and metric hierarchies, such that tonally stable pitch classes and metrically stable temporal positions co-occurred beyond their simple joint probability. Further, the pitch class distribution at stable metric temporal positions agreed more with the tonal hierarchy than at less metrically stable locations. This tonal-metric hierarchy was largely consistent across composers, time signatures, and modes. The existence, profile, and constancy of the tonal-metric hierarchy is relevant to several areas of music cognition research, including pitch-time integration, statistical learning, and global effects of tonality.
one facet of tonality perception that has been fairly understudied in the years since Krumhansl and colleagues' groundbreaking work on tonality (Krumhansl & Kessler, 1982; Krumhansl & Shepard, 1979) is the music theoretical notion that the minor scale can have one of three distinct forms: natural, harmonic, or melodic. The experiment reported here fills this gap by testing if listeners form distinct mental representations of the minor tonal hierarchy based on the three forms of the minor scale. Listeners heard a musical context (a scale or a sequence of chords) consisting of one of the three minor types (natural, harmonic, or melodic) and rated a probe tone according to how well it belonged with the preceding context. Listeners' probe tone ratings corresponded well to the minor type that had been heard in the preceding context, regardless of whether the context was scalar or chordal. These data expand psychological research on the perception of tonality, and provide a convenient reference point for researchers investigating the mental representation of Western musical structure.
Melodic contour, or the pattern of rises and falls in pitch, is a critical component of melodic structure, and has an important impact on listeners' perceptions of, and memory for, music. Despite its centrality, few formal models of contour structure exist. One recent exception involves characterizing contour by the relative degrees of strength of its cyclic information, quantified via a Fourier analysis of the pitch code of the contour. Three experiments explored the applicability of this approach, demonstrating that listeners' similarity ratings for pairs of melodies were predictable from Fourier analysis quantifications of rhythmically complex (Experiment 1) and rhythmically simple (Experiment 2) melodies, as well as for derived similarity measures based on melodic complexity judgments (Experiment 3). These findings indicate that Fourier analysis is an effective model of melodic contour, and that it can predict perceived melodic similarity.
In two experiments, descriptions of melodic contour structure and predictions of perceived similarity relations between pairs of contours produced by a number of different models are examined. Two of these models, based on the music- theoretic approaches of Friedmann (1985) and Marvin and Laprade (1987), characterize contours in terms of interval content or contour subset information. The remaining two approaches quantify the global shape of the contours, through the presence of cyclical information (assessed via Fourier analysis) and the amount of oscillation (e. g., reversals in direction, pitch deviations) in the contours. Theoretical predictions for contour similarity generated by these models were examined for 20th century, nontonal melodies (Experiment 1) and simplistic, tonal patterns (Experiment 2). These experiments demonstrated that similarity based on Fourier analysis procedures and oscillation measures predicted a derived measure of perceived similarity, with both variables contributing relatively independently; the music- theoretic models were inconsistent in their predictive power. These results suggest that listeners are sensitive to the presence of global shape information in melodic contour, with such information underlying the perception of contour structure and contour similarity.
Expectancy has long been of interest to psychologists and recently has become the focus of research in musical cognition. Four experiments are reported that investigated the formation of expectancies in musically trained listeners and performers. Experiments 1 and 2 examined the factors underlying the formation of melodic and harmonic expectancies, respectively. Both experiments found evidence for the psychological reality of constructs derived from the music-theoretic literature in expectancy formation. Experiment 3 investigated the generation of expectancies for a full musical context (one containing simultaneous melodic and harmonic information) and found that melody and harmony were perceptually independent, such that they combined additively in expectancy formation for a full musical context. Experiment 4 provided a convergent operation for the earlier studies by having skilled pianists perform their expectations for the same passages. These productions strongly correlated with the perceptual expectancies of Experiments 1-3. Taken together, these studies provide evidence for the existence of musical expectancy, as well as delineating some of the factors affecting its formation.
Five experiments investigated listeners' capacities for perceiving polytonality, in which materials from more than one key are employed simultaneously. The stimulus materials were based on a particularly striking example of polytonal writing from Stravinsky's Petroushka; it outlines in arpeggiated form the tonic triads of two maximally distant major keys, C and F# major. The first experiment demonstrates, using the probe-tone technique, that the two component voices presented in isolation establish the expected keys and that when they are combined some influence of both keys is felt. The second and third experiments indicate, however, that when presented dichotically the two components cannot be separated perceptually; this is attributed to the two voices having the same rhythmic and contour patterns and being sounded in the same pitch range. The fourth experiment replicated the findings of the first three, using listeners very familiar with the particular passage. The final experiment tested an alternative theoretical account, the octatonic collection. Probe-tone ratings following an octatonic scale did not account satisfactorily for the data for the musical passage, but the hierarchy of priorities proposed by Van den Toorn (1983) fit the data better than the major key profiles, especially for the experienced listeners.