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Percept Psychophys. 1994 Sep;56(3):313-25.

Harmonic and rhythmic influences on musical expectancy.

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Division of Life Sciences, University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON, Canada.


The effects of harmony and rhythm on expectancy formation were studied in two experiments. In both studies, we generated musical passages consisting of a melodic line accompanied by four harmonic (chord) events. These sequences varied in their harmonic content, the rhythmic periodicity of the three context chords prior to the final chord, and the ending time of the final chord itself. In Experiment 1, listeners provided ratings for how well the final chord in a chord sequence fit their expectations for what was to come next; analyses revealed subtle changes in ratings as a function of both harmonic and rhythmic variation. Experiment 2 extended these results; listeners made a speeded reaction time judgment on whether the final chord of a sequence belonged with its set of context chords. Analysis of the reaction time data suggested that harmonic and rhythmic variation also influenced the speed of musical processing. These results are interpreted with reference to current models of music cognition, and they highlight the need for rhythmical weighting factors within the psychological representation of tonal/pitch information.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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