Music Perception
Memory and Musical Expectation for Tones in Cultural Context
Meagan E. Curtis, Jamshed J. Bharucha

Abstract

WE EXPLORED HOW MUSICAL CULTURE SHAPES ONE'S listening experience.Western participants heard a series of tones drawn from either the Western major mode (culturally familiar) or the Indian thaat Bhairav (culturally unfamiliar) and then heard a test tone. They made a speeded judgment about whether the test tone was present in the prior series of tones. Interactions between mode (Western or Indian) and test tone type (congruous or incongruous) reflect the utilization of Western modal knowledge to make judgments about the test tones. False alarm rates were higher for test tones congruent with the major mode than for test tones congruent with Bhairav. In contrast, false alarm rates were lower for test tones incongruent with the major mode than for test tones incongruent with Bhairav. These findings suggest that one's internalized cultural knowledge may drive musical expectancies when listening to music of an unfamiliar modal system.

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