SCHOOL CHILDREN'S PERCEPTION OF PITCH IN MUSIC


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Abstract

Second and fifth graders judged how well they liked each of the 13 chromatic notes ascending from middle C as completions of the ascending and descending scales in C-major. Both groups of children made all of the distinctions within the tonal hierarchy which Krumhansl and Shepard (1979) observed among trained adults: They preferred diatonic to non-diatonic completions, triad completions to other diatonic completions, and the tonic to other triad completions. In some contexts they also exhibited a systematic preference for completions near, in log frequency, to the preceding context. These results call into question the generality of a recent proposal for a developmental sequence of the acquisition of music distinctions. That the present children appear to be more sophisticated perceivers of tonal distinctions than untrained adults suggests that a relatively complex developmental process remains to be described.

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