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The Distinctiveness Effect in the Recognition of Whole Melodies


Rainsford, M and Palmer, MA and Sauer, JD, The Distinctiveness Effect in the Recognition of Whole Melodies, Music Perception, 36, (3) pp. 253-272. ISSN 0730-7829 (2019) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1525/mp.2019.36.3.253


Distinctive stimuli are better recognized than typical stimuli in many domains (e.g., faces, words). Distinctiveness predicts the point of recognition of a melody (Bailes, 2010), and the recognition of unique tones within a melody (Vuvan, Podolak, & Schmuckler, 2014), yet no studies have examined the role of distinctiveness in recognizing whole melodies. We composed a set of novel melodies according to rules that should result in these being perceived as more or less distinctive. Using computational analysis and human ratings by a group of 36 pilot testers, we established a final stimulus set of 96 novel melodies (48 eightnote, 48 sixteen-note), half of which were high and half low in distinctiveness. A separate group of 26 participants completed a recognition test using this stimulus set. Using linear mixed-effects modeling, we found that greater pitch and interval range, wider intervals, varied contour, and ambiguous tonality within a Western diatonic framework predicted human perception of distinctiveness. However, only a wider modal (most frequent) interval predicted correct recognition. Distinctiveness improved recognition performance in both stimulus lengths; however, a significant advantage was only shown for sixteen-note melodies. Thus, the distinctiveness effect as observed across domains generalizes to the recognition of longer, whole melodies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:distinctiveness effect, melody, recognition, mirror effect, computational modeling
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Memory and attention
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Rainsford, M (Dr Miro Rainsford)
UTAS Author:Palmer, MA (Associate Professor Matt Palmer)
UTAS Author:Sauer, JD (Associate Professor Jim Sauer)
ID Code:132090
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP140103746)
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2019-04-18
Last Modified:2019-05-02
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