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Top Cogn Sci. 2012 Oct;4(4):653-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01215.x. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Music perception and cognition: a review of recent cross-cultural research.

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MARCS Institute and School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, NSW, Australia.


Experimental investigations of cross-cultural music perception and cognition reported during the past decade are described. As globalization and Western music homogenize the world musical environment, it is imperative that diverse music and musical contexts are documented. Processes of music perception include grouping and segmentation, statistical learning and sensitivity to tonal and temporal hierarchies, and the development of tonal and temporal expectations. The interplay of auditory, visual, and motor modalities is discussed in light of synchronization and the way music moves via emotional response. Further research is needed to test deep-rooted psychological assumptions about music cognition with diverse materials and groups in dynamic contexts. Although empirical musicology provides keystones to unlock musical structures and organization, the psychological reality of those theorized structures for listeners and performers, and the broader implications for theories of music perception and cognition, awaits investigation.

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