Melody Recognition, Repeated Exposure, and Timbre Change


May 2023


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Previous research showed that people are less likely to recognize a recently heard melody if it has changed timbre. This dissertation investigates how changing timbre influences melody recognition. Participants in Experiment 1 (N = 33) sorted a series of timbres into groups. The data were analyzed with DiSTATIS and five timbres were derived as perceptually different and were used in Experiment 2. In Experiment 2, participants (N = 145) heard a series of melodies repeatedly over five sessions. Participants were assigned to one of three conditions: one in which the timbre of the melodies never changed, one in which timbres changed one time (either at Session 3 or Session 5), or timbre changed every session. Participants rated melodies on a 4- point confidence scale of recognition. Results suggest that regardless of the rate of timbre change, recognition improves over multiple exposures. Exploratory analyses suggest that high levels of music training may significantly improve performance and that different kinds of melody recognition are influenced differently by timbre change.



Psychology, Cognitive