Repetition Priming in Music

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The authors explore priming effects of pitch repetition in music in 3 experiments. Musically untrained participants heard a short melody and sang the last pitch of the melody as quickly as possible. Each experiment manipulated (a) whether or not the tone to be sung (target) was heard earlier in the melody (primed) and (b) the prime–target distance (measured in events). Experiment 1 used variable-length melodies, whereas Experiments 2 and 3 used fixed-length melodies. Experiment 3 changed the timbre of the target tone. In all experiments, fast-responding participants produced repeated tones faster than nonrepeated tones, and this repetition benefit decreased as prime–target distances increased. All participants produced expected tonic endings faster than less expected nontonic endings. Repetition and tonal priming effects are compared with harmonic priming effects in music and with repetition priming effects in language.

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