Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman

Abstract

How people remember music is not only a practical concern for musicians, it also poses an interesting challenge for psychological theory (Wallace, 1994). One question that has often been overlooked is what occurs during the time that elapses between the stimulus onset (hearing music) and the generation of a response (an indication that the song has been remembered). While there is evidence to show that memory for song may be biased in a forward direction (Sibma, 2003), the role of expertise on memory for song may provide a deeper understanding of the nature of our memory for music. This review examined the literature regarding the processes and structures of memory as they relate to musical recall, specifically the role of long-term and auditory memory, "chunking" mechanisms, rhythm and the integration of text and melody as components of song, with special emphasis on examining the nature of expertise in general and how musical expertise may influence music recall in particular. How people remember music is not only a practical concern for musicians, it also poses an interesting challenge for psychological theory (Wallace, 1994). One question that has often been overlooked is what occurs during the time that elapses between the stimulus onset (hearing music) and the generation of a response (an indication that the song has been remembered). While there is some evidence to show that memory for song may be biased in a forward direction (Sibma, 2003), the role of expertise on memory for song may provide a deeper understanding of the nature of our memory for music. In the current experiment, 40 participants, 20 participants with musical expertise and 20 participants with no expertise (20 men, 20 women, mean age= 34.5 years), were asked to identify whether the second excerpt (test line) of a pair of excerpts taken from a popular song, came from 'before' or 'after' the first (probe line) in the normal course of the song. Seven pairs of excerpts, four pairs falling before the target line, and three pairs occurring after the target line, were presented for each of the eight songs heard earlier. Reaction time (RT) and accuracy of participant responses were measured. While it was predicted that RTs for identifying the test lines occurring 'after' the probe line would be shorter than those coming 'before' the target line, exploratory predictions were made regarding the effect of expe1iise a priori. While no significant differences in RT and accuracy were found between Musicians and Nonmusicians, results supported the first hypothesis with significantly shorter RTs in the 'after' condition than the 'before' condition, indicatingthat memory for music is biased in a forward direction.

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