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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2008 Jun;34(3):708-25. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.34.3.708.

Auditory feedback in music performance: the role of transition-based similarity.

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Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA.


Past research has suggested that the disruptive effect of altered auditory feedback depends on how structurally similar the sequence of feedback events is to the planned sequence of actions. Three experiments pursued one basis for similarity in musical keyboard performance: matches between sequential transitions in spatial targets for movements and the melodic contour of auditory feedback. Trained pianists and musically untrained persons produced simple tonal melodies on a keyboard while hearing feedback sequences that either matched the planned melody or were contour-preserving variations of that melody. Sequence production was disrupted among pianists when feedback events were serially shifted by one event, similarly for shifts of planned melodies and tonal variations but less so for shifts of atonal variations. Nonpianists were less likely to be disrupted by serial shifts of variations but showed similar disruption to pianists for shifts of the planned melody. Thus, transitional properties and tonal schemata may jointly determine perception-action similarity during musical sequence production, and the tendency to generalize from a planned sequence to variations of it may develop with the acquisition of skill.

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