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First music perception and cognition student colloquium meeting of the 2010/2011 academic year

  • Music Perception and Cognition Student Colloquium
When Dec 02, 2010
from 05:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where A-410, Marvin Duchow Music Library, New Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke St. W.
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First colloquium meeting of the 2010/2011 academic year

Please join us on December 2 from 5:00-7:00pm in room A-410 of the Marvin Duchow Music Library, New Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke St. W.

Anna Tirovolas and Mikaela Miller will present some of their latest research (abstracts appended below). Each talk will last about 30 minutes and will be followed by a 15-minute question period. 

This will be our first colloquium meeting of the 2010/2011 academic year. Meetings will alternate between CIRMMT and BRAMS.


We hope to see you there!


Meghan Goodchild

Finn Upham

Sean Hutchins


1. Anna Tirovolas, "Music perception and cognition research from 1983 to 2010: A categorical and bibliometric analysis of every empirical paper published in Music Perception." 

In this review, we sought to document the longitudinal course of empirical studies (a meta-trend analysis) published in the journal Music Perception, dating from the journal’s first issue published in 1983 to present day. The aim of this project was to systematically characterize the nature of empirical research published in one of the principal peer-reviewed outlets for work in our field, and consider these data as a sample representing the overall field of music perception. Specific areas examined within each paper were: research topic, experimental task, the types of subjects used (including levels of musical training), the nature of stimuli presented, the apparatus used to carry out experiments, the types of outcome measures, as well as bibliometric information such as geographic and disciplinary (departmental) distribution of the authors.  In total, 384 empirical papers and 150 theoretical papers in the journal were examined, and relevant details extracted. Together, the data allow an examination of 26-year trends in music research, and constitute a database that is fully searchable or sortable by interested researchers.

Contributors: Anna Tirovolas, Samantha Menzies, and Michael Lifshitz 

Supervised by: Daniel Levitin


2. Mikaela Miller, "An empirical investigation of the perception and discrimination of Vicentino's 31-tone tuning system."

Nicola Vicentino is recognized as a sixteenth-century musical revolutionary; a wealth of scholarly work has been devoted his 31-tone tuning system and his listener-oriented approach to the theory and practice of music. Attempts to analyze Vicentino’s compositions are limited in number, however, and empirical studies of the perception of his music are non-existent.  The current paper tests the hypothesis that trained musicians can hear the microtonal nuances of Vicentino’s music (as Vicentino claims), and that certain musical and acoustical parameters can affect listeners’ ability to perceive these nuances.  This hypothesis was tested with a pair of experiments in which trained musicians had to discriminate between short musical excerpts in Vicentino’s 31-tone equal temperament (31-TET) and the standard 12-tone equal temperament (12-TET).  Previous studies have estimated absolute pitch discrimination thresholds in the range of Vicentino’s music as high as 20.8 cents for complex tones (Moore and Moore, 2003), and between 10-45 cents for melodic intervals, depending on interval type (Burns and Ward, 1978; Hall and Hess, 1984).  These thresholds are generally below the differences found between the microtonally inflected pitches and melodic intervals of 31-TET and the pitches and melodic intervals of 12-TET, and thus should be discriminable. The results of the experiments show that listeners are able to reliably discriminate between the two systems in most cases, but that harmonic and voice-leading contexts can greatly affect discrimination ability. 

Supervised by: Stephen McAdams and Jonathan Wild


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