THE PERFORMANCE OF GLOBAL EXPECTATIONS


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Abstract

Expectancy plays a central role in both structural descriptions of music, as well as psychological explanations of the apprehension of such music structure. This experiment investigates some of the factors underlying global expectancy formation, using a production task. Performers saw a number of melodic and combined melodic/harmonic contexts, and were asked to complete these fragments in terms of how they expected the piece would continue. Three aspects of these improvisations were examined-the pitch content, the metrical content, and the length of the continuations. The pitch and metrical content of these productions were influenced by two factors-the pitch and metrical content of the context passages, as well as abstract structural representations of pitch and metric information (i.e. tonal and metric hierarchies). Although continuation lengths varied across performers, they were constrained by the phrase structure of the piece as originally written, Together, these results suggest the presence of schematic plans or “referents” which guide the production of expectancies, as measured by improvisation.

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