Expectancies generated by melodic intervals: perceptual judgments of melodic continuity

Percept Psychophys. 1995 May;57(4):451-62. doi: 10.3758/bf03213071.


The present study tested quantified predictors based on the bottom-up principles of Narmour's (1990) implication-realization model of melodic expectancy against continuity ratings collected for a tone that followed a two-tone melodic beginning. Twenty-four subjects (12 musically trained, 12 untrained) were presented with each of eight melodic intervals--two successive tones which they were asked to consider as the beginning of a melody. On each trial, a melodic interval was followed by a third tone, one of the 25 chromatic notes within the range one octave below to one octave above the second tone of the interval. The subjects were asked to rate how well the third tone continued the melody. A series of regression analyses was performed on the continuation ratings, and a final model to account for the variance in the ratings is proposed. Support was found for three of Narmour's principles and a modified version of a fourth. Support was also found for predictor variables based on the pitch organization of tonal harmonic music. No significant differences between the levels of musical training were encountered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music
  • Pitch Discrimination*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Set, Psychology*