one facet of tonality perception that has been fairly understudied in the years since Krumhansl and colleagues' groundbreaking work on tonality (Krumhansl & Kessler, 1982; Krumhansl & Shepard, 1979) is the music theoretical notion that the minor scale can have one of three distinct forms: natural, harmonic, or melodic. The experiment reported here fills this gap by testing if listeners form distinct mental representations of the minor tonal hierarchy based on the three forms of the minor scale. Listeners heard a musical context (a scale or a sequence of chords) consisting of one of the three minor types (natural, harmonic, or melodic) and rated a probe tone according to how well it belonged with the preceding context. Listeners' probe tone ratings corresponded well to the minor type that had been heard in the preceding context, regardless of whether the context was scalar or chordal. These data expand psychological research on the perception of tonality, and provide a convenient reference point for researchers investigating the mental representation of Western musical structure.
- Received February 24, 2010.
- Accepted November 11, 2010.
- © 2011 by the Regents of the University of California