I recently took part in some interesting research in that intriguing Venn diagram intersection of music/language/psychology.
To ensure that the tests weren’t skewed by knowledge of what was being studied (so called Observer Effect) I simply followed instructions and asked later. Basically I sat at a piano keyboard prepared to sight-read various short musical samples for right hand only. My eyes were tracked so that the researcher could see exactly what I looked at and for how long.
One thing which became clear was that I looked down at my hands too often, even although there was a square on Middle C and a thin Blue Tack ridge on the G above that. The span of notes involved was a 13th ( from the G below Middle C to the E above the next C up).
Once it was all over, it was explained to me that the research was looking to see whether our eyes would linger over odd and incongruous moments the way they do when we read language. For example, “the cat sat on the sat” will, unless you are a modernist poet, make your eyes linger on the final word, which doesn’t, in any conventional sense really “fit”. Musical equivalents included, for example, an excerpt in the key of D in which the sharps which qualified it as ‘being in D’ were cancelled by natural signs. Interestingly, the weren’t many rhythmically weird moments – probably because that would have made the reading tricky. What was being sought was our reaction to oddness – not difficulty.
When I find out more about the results I will ( with the blessing of the researcher) post more.
I always look forward to notification of a new YouTube upload by Smalin aka Stephen Malinowski. I’ve linked to several here before but this one is a cracker and features:
his uniquely colourful system for portraying pitch and duration
the option to watch in 3D – with the right specs
mention of the following musical concepts:
augmentation – doubling the length of notes in the theme
diminution – halving the length of notes in the theme
inversion – turning the theme upside-down; as he explains the M-shape becomes a W-shape
if you watch the hands closely you’ll also see ‘finger substitution’ – where a finger, which is keeping a note down, is ‘relieved’ by another so that it can move on to its next job; the complexity of the music comes through here as many of the notes are effectively being played twice