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Author(s): Nart Bedin ATALAY

Journal: Selcuk Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu Dergisi
ISSN 1302-1796

Issue: 21;
Start page: 45;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Chord priming | perception of chord | perception of harmony

ABSTRACT
Music perception is one of the fundamental areas of human cognition. Listening to music is made possible by recognition ofdiscrete events that are sequenced in time. There are many aspects of music perception, such as perception of melody, groupingof musical events, perception of tension and relaxation, perception of tonality, perception of pitch, perception of chord, andperception of harmony etc. (see Bharucha, Curtis, Paroo, 2006 for a comprehensive review). Chord is a simultaneous sounding ofthree or more pitches. Harmony is the art of chordal organization (Piston, 1978). Perception of harmony is one of the populartopics of music perception. Perception of harmony has been investigated with subjective reports (Krumhansl, Bharucha &Kessler, 1982), recognition memory experiments (Bharucha & Krumhansl, 1983) and chord priming paradigm (Bharucha &Stoeckig, 1986, 1987).In this paper, studies investigated chord priming effect are reviewed, by surveying more or less 40 publications since 1986,when the first article on this effect “Reaction time and musical expectancy: Priming of chords” was published by Bharucha andStoeckig. There exist many reviews on the perception of chord, harmony and tonality in the literature (see Koelsch, 2009; Koelschve Siebel, 2005; Krumhansl, 1990, 2000, 2005; Justus ve Bharucha, 2002; Tillmann, Bharucha ve Bigand, 2000). However, the lacksuch an article in the Turkish language calls for the review of chord priming effect.Chord priming paradigm (Bharucha & Stoeckig, 1986, 1987) is designed to investigate perception of chordal relations (orperception of harmony), and became one of the fundamental methods in this area of investigation. In chord priming paradigm,participants listen to a chord sequence. The last chord is called the target, and the preceding chord(s) prime. Participants make abinary judgment on the target chord, which is usually a consonance/dissonance (Bigand & Pineau, 1997; Tillmann, Bigand, &Pineau, 1998) or in-tune/out-of-tune discrimination judgment (Bharucha & Stoeckig, 1986, 1987; Tekman & Bharucha, 1992,1998). Reaction time and accuracy of responses reflect the expectation towards the target chord. Responses are faster and moreaccurate, when the prime and the target are harmonically related. This is chord priming effect and it has been observedconsistently (Bharucha & Stoeckig, 1986, 1987; Bigand & Pineau, 1997; Escoffier & Tillmann, 2008; Tekman & Bharucha, 1998;Justus & Bharucha, 2001). According to Bharucha (1987; see also Tillmann, et al., 2000), chord priming effect is a result oflearning and representing harmonic relations between chords. Harmonic relations are learned by mere exposure to music is, andthis knowledge is represented with tonal-harmonic schema (Tillmann, et al., 2000). Upon listening to a chord, harmonically relatedchords are activated in the tonal-harmonic schema, which enabled faster processing of related chords. Alternative hypothesizeshas been examined in several studies, and the learning and representation account of chord priming has been confirmed.Bharucha and Stoeckig (1987) and Tekman and Bharucha (1998) showed that chord priming effect is not due to the acousticalsimilarity between prime and target. Tekman and Bharucha (1998) observed that harmonic relation overshadows acousticalsimilarity. Chord priming did not change by the short term memory of and explicit knowledge about the target chord (Justus &Bharucha, 2001). Bigand, et al., (2003) showed that chord priming effect is not due the representation of pitches in short-termmemory. Several other results also support the learning and representation account of harmonic priming: Chord priming has beenobserved from non-musician, musically educated and musician participants (Atalay, 2002, 2007; Bharucha & Stoeckig, 1987;Tekman & Bharucha, 1992, 1998; Justus & Bharucha, 2001; Bigand & Pineau, 1997; Tillmann, et. al, 1998) and from nonmusicianand musically educated children (Schellenberg, et. al, 2005). Chord priming effect has been observed in parallel to the circle of fifths (except for one case). In other words, primes thatwere closer to the target on the circle of fifths facilitated responses compared to distant ones. The exception was reported inAtalay (2002 and 2007). In these studies, harmonically related chords (Neapolitan and dominant) are the most distant chords onthe circle of fifths. Participants responded to the dominant chords faster and more accurately after the Neapolitan chord (Atalay,2002, 2007), which shows that the learned harmonic relations are not limited to the circle of fifths. Furthermore, chord priminghas been found to be a combination of facilitation of the processing of the tonic and inhibition of the processing of thesubdominant targets (Tillmann, Janata, Birk, & Bharucha, 2003).Listening to harmonically related target chord affects other cognitive processes, namely, phoneme monitoring (Bigand, et al.,2001; Escoffier & Tillmann, 2008), timbre discrimination (Tillmann et al., 2006), and semantic priming (Poulin-Charronnat, et al.,2005). Poulin-Charronnat, et al. (2005) proposed that cognitive processes that govern chord priming affect the attentionmechanism. Escoffier and Tillmann (2008) corroborated this theory by reporting the finding that that visual processing also isaffected by listening to harmonically related chord. This theory purports that related chords function as an attentional marker, andthey capture attentional resources more. A further support of this theory comes from the positive correlation between effects ofchord priming on visual processing and the Stroop effect (Atalay & Misirlisoy, 2009). Atalay and Misirlisoy (2009) reported thatparticipants with high Stroop performance were better at blocking the interference of chordal processing on their phonememonitoring capacity.Studies conducted with split-brain and brain damaged patients suggested that right-hemisphere is responsible of chordpriming effect (Tramo & Bharucha, 1991; Tramo, et al., 1990). Chord priming effect was observed from autistic (Heaton, et al.,2007) amusic (Tillmann vd., 2007), and cerebellar patients (Lebrun-Guillaud, et al., 2008; Tillmann, et al., 2008). Observing thechord priming effect from an amusic patient suggests that representation and access of tonal-harmonic knowledge depend ondistinct cognitive processes. On the other hand, a Broca aphasic patient did not show chord priming effect (Patel, et al., 2008),which suggests a relation between linguistic and musical capacities.In this article, artificial neural network models, fMRI, EEG, and PET findings on chord priming were not reviewed. Therewere numerous publications that investigated chord perception with these techniques. It would be more appropriate to reviewthem comprehensively in a separate article.
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