Topics in Cognitive Science (forthcoming)
|Abstract||Much of what we know and love about music is based on implicitly acquired mental representations of musical pitches and the relationships between them. While previous studies have shown that these mental representations of music can be acquired rapidly and can influence preference, it is still unclear which aspects of music influence learning and preference formation. This article reports two experiments that use an artificial musical system to examine two questions: (1) which aspects of music matter most for learning, and (2) which aspects of music matter most for preference formation. Two aspects of music are tested: melody and harmony. In Experiment 1 we tested the learning and liking of a new musical system that is manipulated melodically so that only some of the possible conditional probabilities between successive notes are presented. In Experiment 2 we administered the same tests for learning and liking, but we used a musical system that is manipulated harmonically to eliminate the property of harmonic whole-integer ratios between pitches. Results show that disrupting melody (Experiment 1) disabled the learning of music without disrupting preference formation, whereas disrupting harmony (Experiment 2) does not affect learning and memory but disrupts preference formation. Results point to a possible dissociation between learning and preference in musical knowledge|
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