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Timbre and Memory An experiment for the musical mind Emily Yang Yu Music 151, 2008 Introduction Effect of timbre on music memory! 1. Would a musician who plays a specific instrument be able to memorize a short musical excerpt better if the excerpt is played in his/her instrument?

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timbre and memory

Timbre and Memory

An experiment for the musical mind

Emily Yang Yu

Music 151, 2008

introduction
Introduction
  • Effect of timbre on music memory!
    • 1. Would a musician who plays a specific instrument be able to memorize a short musical excerpt better if the excerpt is played in his/her instrument?
    • 2. A similar, but slightly different question: when the music sample is played by a certain instrument, does the instrumentalist (a musician who plays the instrument) memorize the short musical excerpt better than non-instrumentalist (a musician who was trained in a different instrument)[1].
    • 3. When the excerpt is played by the instrument of the musician’s expertise, how do musicians (who are entrained to the instrument’s sound) compare to of non-musicians in musical memory.

[1]Question 1 takes a musician, and asks whether that musician, on an individual level, performs better when the excerpt is played by his or her instrument. Question 2, takes a music sample, and asks whether the instrumentalist would perform better than the non-instrumentalists. The two questions are essentially the same, but just two different ways of looking at it.

background
Background
  • While fundamental frequency and repetition frequency had negligible effects on timbre memory, interference with timbre memory increased with the spectral similarity of the interpolated tones to the standard tone.
  • Pitch is processed independently of timbre in auditory short term memory.
  • The tendency to perceive pitch in relation to other context pitches was strong and unaffected by whether timbre was constant or varying. In contrast, the relative perception of timbre was weak and was found only when pitch was constant.
    • Timbre is perceived more in absolute than in relative terms.
  • Found that timbre changes differentially affected neither musicans’ nor nonmusicians’ memory for melodies.
  • in no case were the interactions of age and experience on the memory or perceptual speed variables significant
  • both the left and right hemispheres are involved in timbre processing, although the processing is assymetrical
  • Musical training, in addition to enhancing the acquisition of specific knowledge about diatonic scalevstructure, may also more generally facilitate the encoding of and memory for musical material
hypothesis
Hypothesis
  • That timbre will not have a significant effect on timbre
    • Pitch and timbre are processed independently
  • Musician should perform better than non-musicians.
    • Musical training, in addition to enhancing the acquisition of specific knowledge about diatonic scale structure, may also more generally facilitate the encoding of and memory for musical material
experimental design
Experimental Design
  • Divided into 9 segments.
  • Each segment includes:
    • A music sample: played automatically and only once
    • The distracter:
      • Pink noise background
      • 1-2 text questions about the participant’s music background. Some are multiple choice/yes and no. Some are free response.
    • Answer to the music sample
      • 3 choices are given. The participant is the person who selects to play each answer choices.
experimental design6
Experimental Design
  • Of the 9 samples played:
    • There are 3 different difficulty levels:
      • 4, 6, and 8 notes in length
    • There are 3 different timbres
      • Viola, piano and clarinet
    • Music samples/answers are generated randomly.
      • Thus avoiding typical musical gestures.
    • Melodies are kept in the same range. (c4-c5)
    • The survey takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.
improvements to the design
Improvements to the design
  • I originally wanted to add two more timbres:
    • Samples can be made of a mix of the 3 timbres. Answer choices would have the same sequence of timbre.
    • Completely synthesized timbre: not an instrumental sound. This would have been a great tool for comparison between nonmusicians and musicians.
what i could have done better
What I could have done better...
  • Too Easy: this could account of the very small amount of performance variation between all groups
    • Make the wrong answer choices more similar to the correct one!
  • The distracter:
    • Some people said that it took longer to answer the free response questions, thus, the distraction time amongst the segments was not uniform.
  • The website:
    • There were a lot of things that could have limited people from cheating, but the technology didn’t really allow them.
  • The player:
    • Unfortunately, I was unable to take out the time component on the player for Linux computer users. People could have cheated that way.
  • The music samples:
    • The website I used to obtained the music samples didn’t have very good players. Some of them were very out of tune.
    • Processing them in Audacity made some of the sounds become unnatural/sounds synthesized.
    • The time between each notes were very exact. So there’s a small rhythmic component to the test.