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January 2022

Exploring the elementary harmonic forces in the tonal system

Journal/Book: Psychol Res-Psychol Forsch. 1996; 58: 175 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10010. Springer Verlag. 274-283.

Abstract: To study the elementary expectations that arise in the perception of tonal music, an exploratory study was performed in which subjects heard a sequence of four chords (to induce a key or tonality) followed by one tone (1 of the 12 tones within an octave), and indicated which tone they expected to be the next tone. Responses were divided into three groups: a random, a fifth, and a tonal group. The expectations in the tonal group are of main interest, as they seem to originate from a tonal representation. In this representation the tonic attracts almost all tones, although to different degrees, while the dominant and the mediant function as centripetal centers that attract only nearby tones. A preliminary model for the formation of elementary expectations based on a 3-level mental representation of the tones in a key is proposed. The predictive capability of the model is compared to that of existing models.

Note: Article DJ Povel, Nijmegen Inst Cognit, Res & Informat Technol, POB 9104, 6500 He Nijmegen, Netherlands

Keyword(s): MUSICAL PITCH; REPRESENTATION; CONTEXT


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