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Dynamic melody recognition : distinctiveness and the role of musical expertise.

Bailes, Freya


Freya Bailes


The hypothesis that melodies are recognized at moments when they exhibit a distinctive musical pattern was tested. In a melody recognition experiment, point-of-recognition (POR) data were gathered from 32 listeners (16 musicians and 16 nonmusicians) judging 120 melodies. A series of models of melody recognition were developed, resulting from a stepwise multiple regression of two classes of information relating to melodic familiarity and melodic distinctiveness. Melodic distinctiveness measures were assembled through statistical analyses of over 15,000 Western themes and melodies. A significant model, explaining 85% of the variance, entered measures primarily of timing distinctiveness and pitch distinctiveness, but excluding familiarity, as predictors of POR. Differences between nonmusician and musician models suggest a processing shift from momentary to accumulated information with increased exposure to music. Supplemental materials for this article may be downloaded from


Bailes, F. (2010). Dynamic melody recognition : distinctiveness and the role of musical expertise. Memory & cognition, 38(5), 641-650.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 8, 2010
Publication Date 2010-07
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Memory & Cognition
Print ISSN 0090-502X
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 5
Pages 641-650
Keywords Serial position; Musical training; Familiarity rating; Music perception; Scale degree
Public URL
Additional Information REF 2014 submission!
Contract Date Nov 13, 2014