Repetition and novelty are essential components of tonal music. Previous research suggests that the degree of repetitiveness of a line can determine its relative melodicity within a musical texture. Concordantly, musical accompaniments tend to be highly repetitive, probably facilitating listeners’ tendency to focus on and follow the melodic lines they support. With the aim of contributing to the unexplored area of the relationship between repetition and attention in polyphonic music listening, this paper presents an empirical investigation of the way listeners attend to exact and immediate reiterations of musical fragments in two-part contrapuntal textures. Participants heard original excerpts composed of a repetitive and a nonrepetitive part, continuously rating the relative prominence of the two voices. The results indicate that the line that consists of immediate and exact repetitions of a short musical fragment tends to perceptually decrease in salience for the listener. This suggests that musical repetition plays a significant role in dynamically shaping listeners’ perceptions of musical texture by affecting the relative perceived importance of simultaneous parts.
- Received July 7, 2014.
- Accepted April 23, 2015.
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