Document Detail


The basis of musical consonance as revealed by congenital amusia.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23150582     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Some combinations of musical notes sound pleasing and are termed "consonant," but others sound unpleasant and are termed "dissonant." The distinction between consonance and dissonance plays a central role in Western music, and its origins have posed one of the oldest and most debated problems in perception. In modern times, dissonance has been widely believed to be the product of "beating": interference between frequency components in the cochlea that has been believed to be more pronounced in dissonant than consonant sounds. However, harmonic frequency relations, a higher-order sound attribute closely related to pitch perception, has also been proposed to account for consonance. To tease apart theories of musical consonance, we tested sound preferences in individuals with congenital amusia, a neurogenetic disorder characterized by abnormal pitch perception. We assessed amusics' preferences for musical chords as well as for the isolated acoustic properties of beating and harmonicity. In contrast to control subjects, amusic listeners showed no preference for consonance, rating the pleasantness of consonant chords no higher than that of dissonant chords. Amusics also failed to exhibit the normally observed preference for harmonic over inharmonic tones, nor could they discriminate such tones from each other. Despite these abnormalities, amusics exhibited normal preferences and discrimination for stimuli with and without beating. This dissociation indicates that, contrary to classic theories, beating is unlikely to underlie consonance. Our results instead suggest the need to integrate harmonicity as a foundation of music preferences, and illustrate how amusia may be used to investigate normal auditory function.
Authors:
Marion Cousineau; Josh H McDermott; Isabelle Peretz
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2012-11-12
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  109     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2012 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-11-28     Completed Date:  2013-02-19     Revised Date:  2013-07-11    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  19858-63     Citation Subset:  IM    
Affiliation:
International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) and Center for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7. marioncousineau@gmail.com
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MeSH Terms
Descriptor/Qualifier:
Acoustics
Auditory Perception*
Humans
Music*
Grant Support
ID/Acronym/Agency:
//Canadian Institutes of Health Research; //Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Comments/Corrections

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