THE MUSICAL PRIMING PARADIGM ALLOWS FOR INVESTIGATION of listeners' expectations based on their implicit knowledge of tonal stability. To date, priming data are limited to reports of facilitated processing for tonic over nontonic events. The special status of the tonic as a cognitive reference point brings into question the subtlety of listeners' tonal knowledge: Is the facilitated processing observed in priming studies limited to tonic events, or is tone processing influenced by subtler tonal contrasts? The present study investigated tonal priming for mediants (the third scale degree) over leading tones (the seventh scale degree) presented in melodic contexts. Experiment 1 used a timbre discrimination task and Experiment 2 an intonation task. Facilitated processing was observed for the more tonally stable mediants over the less stable leading tones, thus showing that priming effects are not limited to pairs of tonal degrees including the tonic. This finding emphasizes the subtlety of nonexpert listeners' tonal knowledge.
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