4pMU1. Sensitivity to key movement in a Beethoven excerpt: Theory and evidence.

Session: Thursday Afternoon, June 19

Author: Lola L. Cuddy
Location: Dept. of Psych., Queen's Univ., Kingston, Canada
Author: Nicholas A. Smith
Location: Univ. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada


After a brief introduction to historical and contemporary descriptions of musical key, key relationships, and key movement, the results of two experiments testing convergence of music theory with listener response will be reported. Perceptual sensitivity to key and key movement in the opening measures of the second movement of Beethoven's piano sonata Opus 53 (Waldstein) was evaluated by the probe-tone technique. Listeners were either familiar (experiment 1, n=14) or unfamiliar (experiment 2, n=14) with the excerpt. The excerpt was performed by an experienced pianist and recorded as MIDI files. On each trial, the excerpt was presented from the beginning to one of nine successive time points. Time points were the first beat, the first bar, and each successive bar. For each time point there were 12 presentations, each followed by a probe tone, and 1 of the 12 chromatic divisions of the octave randomly selected without replacement. Listeners judged the goodness-of-fit of each probe tone to the music presented; the set of 12 ratings yielded a probe-tone profile. A significant proportion of profile variance was accounted for by quantified music-theoretic and psychoacoustic predictors, the proportion increasing with familiarity. [Work supported by NSERC.]

ASA 133rd meeting - Penn State, June 1997