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December 2021

The combinatorial model of pitch contour

Journal/Book: Music Percept. 1999; 16: Journals Dept 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Univ Calif Press. 439-456.

Abstract: Much previous work on the perception of pitch contour has concerned itself only with the contour relations among adjacent notes, which may lead to the assumption that relations among nonadjacent tones do not play a role in the mental representation of contour. Music theorists, on the other hand, have developed sophisticated models of contour in which relations among nonadjacent tones play an integral part. In order to test the salience of relations among nonadjacent melodic tones in the perception of melodic contour, musically trained participants were asked to rate the similarity of discrete pairs of stimulus melodies with regard to contour. The results suggest that although contour relations among adjacent tones are more significant than those among nonadjacent tones in determining judgments about contour similarity, nonadjacent contour relations do contribute to such judgments.

Note: Article Quinn I, Univ Rochester, Eastman Sch Mus, Dept Mus Theory, 26 Gibbs St, Rochester,NY 14604 USA


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