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June 2022

Perceptual integrality of major chord components

Author(s): Pastore, R. E.

Journal/Book: Percept Psychophys. 1996; 58: 748-61.

Abstract: In the present study, an accuracy, rather than a reaction time, version of the Garner paradigm was used to evaluate the integrality or separability of major chord components. Tuned (prototype, or P) and mistuned (nonprototype, or NP) sets of root position C-major triads were constructed by holding the C constant in all stimuli and varying the E and G frequencies in 2- and 4-Hz steps. The P stimuli represent small systematic mistunings in the E and G notes relative to an equal- tempered C-major chord. The NP stimuli represent an equivalent range of frequency variation, but relative to a significantly out-of-tune C- major triad. In different experimental sessions, a same-different (AX) task was used to separately evaluate discrimination performance for the E and G frequencies as a function of whether the nontarget frequency (G or E) was fixed or varied in either a correlated or an orthogonal fashion (with the C frequency always held constant). Compared with a fixed baseline condition where only the target frequency changed, both chord components exhibited a significant redundancy gain in the correlated conditions and, to varying degrees, significant interference effects in the orthogonal condition, indicating that the chord components function largely in an integral fashion. Relative to the discrimination of G, discrimination of the E frequency was less influenced by variation in the nontarget (G) frequency, showing that attention, to some degree, could be selectively allocated to the E chord component. In addition, the results were consistent with previous findings that the functional prototype for the major chord category seems to act as a perceptual anchor, rather than as a magnet, and appears to be located in the physiologically defined area of just temperament, as opposed to the more experientially defined area of equal temperament.

Keyword(s): Adult. Attention. Female. Human. Male. Music. Pitch Discrimination. Practice (Psychology). Psychoacoustics. Reaction Time. Recall. Sound Spectrography. Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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