Learning harmony: the role of serial statistics.

TitleLearning harmony: the role of serial statistics.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJonaitis EMcMullen, Saffran JR
JournalCogn Sci
Date Published2009 Jul

How do listeners learn about the statistical regularities underlying musical harmony? In traditional Western music, certain chords predict the occurrence of other chords: Given a particular chord, not all chords are equally likely to follow. In Experiments 1 and 2, we investigated whether adults make use of statistical information when learning new musical structures. Listeners were exposed to a novel musical system containing phrases generated using an artificial grammar. This new system contained statistical structure quite different from Western tonal music. Our results suggest that learners take advantage of the statistical patterning of chords to acquire new musical structures, similar to learning processes previously observed for language learning.

Alternate JournalCogn Sci
PubMed ID21585492