The development of musical tuning perception from infancy to adulthood
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
First Committee Member
Rebecca E. Eilers, Committee Chair
A first-generation cognitive/perceptual model of the processing of acoustic frequency relationships was developed. The model was constructed as an account of the role of Western musical experience in perception of mistunings in both Western and Javanese musical scales. The role of musical experience was assessed in three experiments with infant, child, and adult subjects who possessed different levels of musical background. Subjects were tested in two paradigms. One of these paradigms was an adaptive psychophysical test of adults in which PEST was used to estimate the smallest degree of pitch raising that subjects could reliably perceive in melodies based on Western and Javanese musical scales. In the other paradigm, infants, 10-13-year-olds, and adults were tested in their ability to discriminate between well-tuned and mistuned versions of Western and Javanese melodies. Overall, the results indicated that the performance of adults with formal musical background was not significantly different across musical scale types. Adults with less musical background had a perceptual advantage for Western scales over the pelog scale. The infants' discrimination performance was similar to the musically trained adults' in that it was not significantly different across the Western and Javanese melodies. The 10-13-year-old musicians' discrimination performance was similar to the musically naive adults' in that it was significantly better for the Western than for the Javanese melodies. The performance of the 10-13-year-old musically inexperienced subjects was not significantly different across the musical scale types. The results of these experiments were discussed in terms of models that incorporate an acquired framework for musical tuning into systems of potentially innate cognitive/perceptual structures that may underlie the processing of acoustic frequency ratios. The models have implications for computer modeling of learning, research in the neurosciences, language acquisition, and our understanding of the processes underlying music and non-music perception.
Lynch, Michael Philip, "The development of musical tuning perception from infancy to adulthood" (1989). Dissertations from ProQuest. 2755.