The effect of task and pitch structure on pitch-time interactions in music

Jon B. Prince, Mark A. Schmuckler, William F. Thompson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    32 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Musical pitch-time relations were explored by investigating the effect of temporal variation on pitch perception. In Experiment 1, trained musicians heard a standard tone followed by a tonal context and then a comparison tone. They then performed one of two tasks. In the cognitive task, they indicated whether the comparison tone was in the key of the context. In the perceptual task, they judged whether the comparison tone was higher or lower than the standard tone. For both tasks, the comparison tone occurred early, on time, or late with respect to temporal expectancies established by the context. Temporal variation did not affect accuracy in either task. Experiment 2 used the perceptual task and varied the pitch structure by employing either a tonal or an atonal context. Temporal variation did not affect accuracy for tonal contexts, but did for atonal contexts. Experiment 3 replicated these results and controlled potential confounds. We argue that tonal contexts bias attention toward pitch and eliminate effects of temporal variation, whereas atonal contexts do not, thus fostering pitch-time interactions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)368-381
    Number of pages14
    JournalMemory and Cognition
    Volume37
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

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