The Recognition of Melodic Fragments as Components of Tonal Patterns

Cecilia Chu Wang, David W. Sogin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This research was designed to investigate listeners' ability to recognise melodic fragments representing two different tonal organisations. One hundred college students listened to 48 items each consisting of a 12-tone sequence having a structure of four three-tone groups, an interfering pattern, and a melodic fragment to be identified. The melodic fragment was extracted from the 12-tone sequence either within a melodic group or from adjacent groups. The interfering stimuli were of three types: melodic pattern, tones in octaves, and spoken number sequence. Results suggest that subjects encode the melody along the melodic structure as evidenced by the fact that recognition was more successful when the melodic fragment conformed with the built-in melodic structure. Recognition was reduced when the fragment was composed from two three-note groups rather than one, and only in this case were differential effects of the distracter stimuli observed. These data indicate that listeners encoded the original material with respect to the three-note groups. The results are consistent with notion of limited processing capacity that is assisted by melodic groupine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-149
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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