INTERVAL AND INTERVAL CLASS SIMILARITY: RESULTS OF A CONFUSION STUDY


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Abstract

Undergraduate music majors (N=27) identified simple musical intervals (m2 through M7), presented at 10 different pitch levels and in three different presentation modes (ascending, descending, harmonic). Resulting error matrices were analyzed by direct inspection, repeated measures ANOVA, and multidimensional scaling (MDS). Minor 6ths were the most difficult to identify; sizes of larger intervals were systematically underestimated; and an interaction of several factors including interval type and acoustical dissonance appeared to shape error rates. ANOVA found no effect for pitch level but a significant effect for presentation mode, with ascending intervals easiest and harmonic intervals the most difficult to identify. A three-dimensional MDS configuration was obtained, indicating an interaction of interval size, interval type, and class of acoustical dissonance. The “classical” interval classes of pitch class set theory can be derived from a particular planar projection of the configuration.

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