The Processing of Pitch Combinations

Diana Deutsch
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

In D. Deutsch (Ed.). The Psychology of Music, 3rd Edition, 2013, 249-325, San Diego: Elsevier.
In this chapter, we explore the processing of pitch combinations in music. We first discuss the abstraction of low-level features; these include local features such as intervals, chords, and pitch classes, as well as global features such as contour. We next explore how listeners organize pitches in music so as to perceive coherent phrases, and we discuss the roles played by proximity in pitch and time, and the involvement of tonal schemata, in this process. We argue that, at the highest level of abstraction, music is represented in the mind of the listener in the form of coherent patterns that are linked together so as to produce hierarchical structures. We also explore short-term memory (i.e., working memory) for different features of tones and consider how effects in short-term memory influence the perception of musical phrases. In the final sections, we explore a number of musical illusions and their implications.
perception, pattern, illusion, pitch class, memory, contour, hierarchy, tritone paradox, interval, chord, neural substrate, pitch space, tonality, short-term memory

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