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

Craig Speelman

Abstract

Existing research gives an inconsistent picture of the nature of the cognitive processes underlying memory for musical information. A study was conducted to investigate the stability and accuracy of long-term memory for pitch amongst individuals who have not had musical training. The independent variable which was manipulated in this study was the pitch of each excerpt from a well-known pop song. Participants heard one long sequence of excerpts, each of which had been raised or lowered in pitch by one semitone, or been left unaltered. After hearing each excerpt, participants were asked to detect whether it was different from the original version of the song they remembered. The dependent variable under investigation in this study was the accuracy with which participants detected alterations in the pitch of familiar songs. Participants were significantly worse at detecting whether the pitch of an excerpt had been changed when the altered excerpt was preceded by an unaltered excerpt or vice versa, than when they heard two consecutive unaltered excerpts. This suggests that pitch memory is subject to interference from previously presented pitch information.

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