In two experiments, the influence of unattended musical content on the processing of attended content was investigated by using melodic interval pairs. In Experiment 1, 2 two-note melodic fragments were played concurrently in separate pitch registers and with different timbres. Participants with music training were timed as they decided whether one melody was rising or falling while ignoring the other. Pitch direction (up or down) and interval type (major second and perfect fifth) of attended and unattended intervals were orthogonally combined. The measure of interference was the degree to which the unattended pattern influenced the processing time and the accuracy of judging the attended melody. Unattended voice influence from both types of intervals was observed on the attended voice for seconds, but not fifths, in Experiment 1. The second study replicated the first with interval pairs in overlapping pitch registers. Influence from the unattended voice was found for both seconds and fifths. Participants found the selection task more difficult when parts crossed and voices were moving in contrary motion rather than in the same direction. Implications for the emergence of global stimulus properties in the context of musical counterpoint are discussed. Both experiments showed that unattended musical content can affect processing of attended intervals and that pitch distance may serve to moderate selective attention. Received February 12, 1999, accepted June 24, 2003
- Received March 12, 1999.
- Accepted June 24, 2003.
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