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Some principles of music perception
Event details of ABC Colloquium - Samuel Mehr
12 September 2023
16:00 -18:00
REC C0.02

Some principles of music perception


Like vocalizations found across the animal kingdom, human music can reliably transmit information from producers to listeners. Do the communicative properties of music constitute a basic piece of human psychology? Research from our group is pointing to an answer: "yes".

Adult listeners accurately infer the behavioral functions of music, on the basis of musical forms alone, even when the songs are from unfamiliar cultures and sung in unfamiliar languages. Such effects are not, however, merely a result of musical or cultural experience: young children and infants show related effects, with little evidence for increases in sensitivity across ages; as do adults living in isolated, small-scale societies, who have minimal exposure to the music of other cultures.

High-level representations of musical communication may be facilitated by lower-level processing of pitch, rhythm, and other acoustic information, in a similar fashion to more general principles of auditory perception.


Dr Samuel Mehr, School of Psychology, University of Auckland and Child Study Center, Yale University