The perceptual structure of the five themes of Roger Reynolds's The Angel of Death was investigated. We studied how listeners follow the musical progression of each theme and whether or not they perceive the temporal implications. In the first phase, participants performed three tasks on the full themes, one of which consisted of segmenting the musical ideas online. In the second phase, participants were presented with pairs of excerpts from the themes, judged whether both belonged to the same theme, and if they did which one occurred first in the theme. Participants� segmentations corresponded to surface discontinuities in places, but were strongly influenced by the rhetorical structure of the themes in others. Listeners (particularly nonmusicians) encountered difficulties when they were required to perform more abstract tasks out of the musical context such as the belongingness judgment, which depended on surface similarities, and the temporal-order judgment, which depended on previous hearing of the full themes.
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