4pMU8. Vocal accuracy in performance of well-known melodies.

Session: Thursday Afternoon, June 19

Author: Clare L. Henderson
Location: Dept. of Arts and Lang., School of Education, Private Bag 3105, Univ. of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, clhend@waikato.ac.nz
Author: Lloyd Smith
Location: Univ. of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand


Vocalization is an important aspect of music making, regardless of the culture. Psychologists have carried out considerable research on human melody recognition and perception, which includes anaysis of musical cognitive processes. However, questions that relate directly to the ways in which people perform what they recall have been left largely unanswered. In this experiment, a number of people were asked to sing, from memory, ten well-known songs. Their performances were recorded on audio tape and analyzed and compared with notated versions of the songs. The results showed that pitch maintenance was more accurate when songs moved by steps rather than leaps and when intervals moved up rather than down. Pitch problems were more prevalent in songs using downward leaps or changes of tonality. Wide leaps, such as fifths or sixths, were often compressed, with subjects singing the top note of an ascending interval flat, or the bottom of a descending interval sharp. The results of this experiment have useful applications for musicologists, music educators, composers, and those involved with data retrieval processes.

ASA 133rd meeting - Penn State, June 1997