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Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 599–608 | Cite as

A study of perceptual development for musical tuning

  • Michael P. Lynch
  • Rebecca E. Eilers
Article

Abstract

Musical tuning perception in infancy and adulthood was explored in three experiments. In Experiment 1, Western adults were tested in detection of randomly located mistunings in a melody based on musical interval patterns from native and nonnative musical scales. Subjects performed better in a Western major scale context than in either a Western augmented or--a Javanese pelog scale context. Because the major scale is used frequently in Western music and, therefore, is more perceptually familiar than either the augmented scale or the pelog scale are, the adults’ pattern of performance is suggestive of musical acculturation. Experiments 2 and3 were designed to explore the onset of culturally specific perceptual reorganization for music in the age period that has been found to be important in linguistically specific perceptual reorganization for speech. In Experiment 2, 1-year-olds had a pattern of performance similar to that of the adults, but 6-month-olds could not detect mistunings reliably better than chance. In Experiment 3, another group of 6-month-olds was tested, and a larger degree of mistuning was used so that floor effects might be avoided. These 6-month-olds performed better in the major and augmented scale contexts than in the pelog context, without a reliable performance difference between the major and augmented contexts. Comparison of the results obtained with 6-month-olds and 1-year-olds suggests that culturally specific perceptual reorganization for musical tuning begins to affect perception between these ages, but the 6-month-olds’ pattern of results considered alone is not as clear. The 6-month-olds’ better performance on the major and augmented interval patterns than on the pelog interval pattern is potentially attributable to either the 6-month.olds’ lesser perceptual acculturation than that of the 1-year-olds or perhaps to an innate predisposition for processing of music based on a single fundamental interval, in this case the semitone.

Keywords

False Alarm Rate Just Noticeable Difference Music Perception Change Trial Western Music 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Audiology & Speech SciencesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette
  2. 2.University of MiamiCoral Gables

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