Perceived relations between musical tones

Carol L. Krumhansl

in Cognitive Foundations of Musical Pitch

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780195148367
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893201 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychology Series

Perceived relations between musical tones

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This chapter considers the question of how tones are heard in relation to one another. The experiment that is central to this chapter presents all possible pairs of successive tones following a context that defines either a major or minor key. Listeners judge how closely related the first tone of the pair is heard as being to the second. These data are then analyzed to determine the variables influencing the listeners' judgments: distance on the chroma circle, distance on the circle of fifths, and the position of the two tones in the tonal hierarchy of the context key. The judgments are compared with statistical summaries of the frequency with which melodic intervals appear in tonal-harmonic music. The judgments depend on temporal order and key context, which limits the utility of spatial models for representing perceived pitch relations.

Keywords: musical pitch; musical tone; tonal relation; tonal consonance; tonal distribution

Chapter.  10443 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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