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Unformatted text preview: lo u n u l of Experim ental Psychology: General 2000. Vol. 129. N o. 3. 291-307 Copyright 2000 by the Am erican Psychologic.) A ssociation, Inc. C096-3445/OOrt5.00 D O I: 10.1037S0096-344S.129.3.29I Music Perception and Octave Generalization in Rhesus Monkeys A nthony A . W right and Jacquelyne J. Rivera University of Texas Medical School at Houston Stewart H . Hulse Johns Hopkins University M e lissa S h y an Butler University Ju lie J. N e iw o rth Carleton College Two rhesus monkeys were tested for octave generalization in 8 experiments by transposing 6- and 7-note musical passages by an octave and requiring same or different judgments. The monkeys showed no octave generalization to random-synthetic melodies, atonal melodies, or individual notes. They did show complete octave generalization to childhood songs (e.g., "Happy Birthday") and tonal melodies (from a tonality algorithm). Octave generalization was equally strong for 2-octave transpositions but not for 0.5- or l.S-octave transpositions of childhood songs. These results combine to show that tonal melodies form musical gestalts for monkeys, as they do for humans, and retain their identity when transposed with whole octaves so that chroma (key) is preserved. This conclusion implicates similar transduction, storage, processing, and relational memory of musical passages in monkeys and humans and has implications for nature-nurture origins of music perception. Music is considered among cultures' highest achievements. Nevertheless, music from different cultures shares many charac- teristics. Among these common characteristics is that all music uses a limited number of possible notes. A limited number of possible notes helps to make songs memorable and reproducible. Other factors contribute to their memorability, reproducibility, and general appeal. Take, for example, the familiar tune "Happy Birth- day." There is no doubt about its memorability. The first four notes readily identify it. Furthermore, different sets of four notes sepa- rated by whole octaves suffice equally well to identify "Happy Birthday." Preverbal infants as well as adults can identify a transposed melody as the same melody while at the same time recognizing that the notes are different, that is, different pitch heights (e.g., Demany & Armand, 1984; Pick & Palmer, 1993, p. 199; Trehub, Morrongiello, & Thorpe, 1985). Thus, the melody becomes a whole or gestalt unto itself, somewhat independent of the notes used to produce it. Anthony A. Wright and Jacquelyne J. Rivera, Department of Neurobi- ology and Anatomy, University of Texas M edical School at Houston; Stewart H. Hulse, Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University; M elissa Shyan, Department of Psychology, Butler University; Julie J....
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