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Seminar: 10/8 - Carol Krumhansl, Cornell University

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  5101 Tolman

Linking music and cognition

The talk presents research showing that music and cognition have strong links at many levels. An example of a link at a deep level is the empirical support found for deeply-theorized properties of music such as Lerdahl’s theory of musical tension. Confirmation of this theory demonstrates that the cognitive representation of musical structure includes hierarchical trees similar to those proposed for language. At a somewhat higher level, sensitivity to statistically frequent patterns in the sounded events enables listeners to abstract a tonal framework for encoding and remembering music. A machine-learning algorithm will be presented that uses statistical analyses to distill melodic structure. The application tests the importance of tone durations for identifying musically interpretable patterns. Finally, research on music recognition suggests a great deal of surface information is encoded in memory. Very short excerpts of popular music can be identified with artist, title, and release date. Even when an excerpt is not identified, emotion and style judgments are consistent. These results point to a long-term memory for music with large capacity and fine detail as well as schematic knowledge of style and emotional content.