The role of duration and frequency of occurrence in ...

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Title The role of duration and frequency of occurrence in perceived pitch structure
Author(s) Michael Edward Lantz
Date 2002
Abstract The influence of relative duration, total duration, and frequency of occurrence as cues to perceived pitch structure in musical contexts was assessed in 6 experiments. All experiments employed a probe-tone technique in which a melodic context was played 12 times, each time followed by one of 12 probe tones. Participants rated the goodness-of-fit of the probe tone to the context. In Experiments 1 and 2, tones in the contexts were given either a durational or a frequency of occurrence bias. As expected, a duration effect occurred in which long tones received increasingly higher ratings than more frequent tones. Increasing frequency of occurrence did not increase ratings for the short, more frequent tones. In Experiment 3, complexity of the contexts was increased by increasing the number of tones and durations beyond that found in the first 2 experiments but a duration effect was still found. In Experiments 4 and 6, total duration and frequency of occurrence of the short tones were co-varied. A duration effect was still found, even with a total-duration advantage for short tones. In Experiment 5, total duration and relative duration were co-varied. The duration effect was negated when total duration of short tones equalled and exceeded that of long tones. Results of Experiments 4, 5, and 6 implicate relative duration as the major cue to pitch structure. A meta-analysis was undertaken across experiments with size of the duration effect as dependent variable and ratios of relative duration, total duration, and frequency of occurrence between long and short tones as predictors. Relative-duration was the best predictor, as expected, but total duration added a significant amount of predictability beyond relative duration. A model of pitch perception based on the results is presented.

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