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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of different musical timbres on students’ identification of melodic intervals Hinton, Dallas Edward


Musical timbre, an attribute of musical tone, is seldom considered to play an important part in pitch identification. College/university music students routinely are given ear training, i.e., are taught to identify intervals and chords from dictation, as part of their regular harmony or theory classes. For this exploratory study five hypotheses were formulated, stating that ability to identify melodic intervals during music dictation is not affected by differences in timbre, the use of familiar or unfamiliar timbres (MAJOR), formal ear training experience (FETE), or playing/performing experience on an instrument (PPEM), and that there is no significant interaction between PPEM and FETE. Melodic intervals were presented in random order by six instruments: clarinet, trumpet, piano, violin, xylophone, and synthesizer (sine waveform). Each instrument played twelve randomly assorted melodic intervals, based on C4 and not exceeding one octave. The independent variables were MAJOR instrument, FETE, and PPEM. The dependent measures were the scores achieved on an author-written melodic interval dictation test closely resembling the "typical" ear training quiz used in many college/university music theory classes. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used for an analysis of PPEM (three levels) compared with FETE (three levels). A second MANOVA analysis was used for MAJOR. Appropriate Scheffe post hoc analyses were carried out. It was found, that the amount of playing/performing experience affected subjects' scores on the dependent variables, but only for those subjects with more than ten years of PPEM. The amount of formal ear training experience also significantly affected subjects' scores, but there was no clear pattern discernible. Both PPEM and FETE interacted with the dependent variables to produce pairwise differences at various levels of each independent variable. No significant interaction between PPEM and FETE was found. There were statistically significant differences among the various, levels .of the declared MAJOR instruments, but no clear pattern was found. It was concluded that FETE, PPEM, and MAJOR all affected subjects' scores on intervals presented with different timbres.

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