Perception of Intrinsic Formal Functionality – Critique

VALLIÈRES, Michel et al. (2009). Perception of Intrinsic Formal Functionality: An Empirical Investigation of Mozart’s Materials. Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, 3(1/2), 17–43.

The study cited above found that listeners were able to distinguish between beginnings, middles, and ends in the absence of temporal context. This result is attributed to the theorized existence of intrinsic formal functionality. In short, specific combinations of musical features are associated with the three basic temporal functions of beginning, middle, and end. According to the study, these features alone provide sufficient information for listeners (both musicians and non-musicians) to determine the temporal location of a given excerpt within a score.

As an individual project, I propose to examine the authors’ assumptions (they seem to imply, for instance, that intrinsic form functionality is constant and universal) and questionable methodology, which I suspect will cast doubt on the findings. I will also discuss the general conclusions of this article in light of recent literature on the perception of musical form.

Week 4 Assignment

1. Readings: Read Large & Jones (1999), paying mostly attention to the introductory/theoretical discussion and the experimental design & findings (you can feel free to skip the interspersed mathematical exposition); skim through Clayton & al. (2005). Post a preliminary response on the Forum blog by Tuesday, September 24, 11:59 PM. You may also wish to skim through Repp (2005) or Repp & Su (2013), both of which review a very important body of research pertaining to various aspects of beat perception, but these are mainly provided as references.

2. Student-led discussions:

a. Developmental & Cross-Cultural Issues (follow-up): Review Hannon & al.’s (2012) representation of experimental stimuli (Fig. 1, included in class handouts) and Stephen’s response to the posting on the Forum blog. Do you agree with his reading of the rhythmic/metric structure? (If you need clarification, please post a reply to his.) Does this jeopardize the researchers’ findings, and how might the stimuli be modified? We will address these questions and other comments at the beginning of next class.

b. Expertise: Review Julia’s instructions on the Forum blog, and post a reply, if you have not yet done so.

3. Review of music cognition journals: Add the preliminary results of step 2 in your “Journals” post. Move on to step 3.

4. Group experiments: Review your group’s questions and do some preliminary background research as needed in preparation for the research questions selection discussion during class on 9/26. Some recommended databases for research are PsychArticles and Google Scholar.

5. Individual project: Research question due by next class at the latest (one paragraph to be posted in your personalized category).

Can rhythm influence Parkinson’s disease?

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2013 Sep 3. pii: S0149-7634(13)00193-0
Into the groove: can rhythm influence Parkinson’s disease?

Nombela C, Hughes LE, Owen AM, Grahn JA
Clinical Neuroscience Department, Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, ED Adrian Building, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0PY, UK.

Previous research has noted that music can improve gait in several pathological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke. Current research into auditory-motor interactions and the neural bases of musical rhythm perception has provided important insights for developing potential movement therapies. Specifically, neuroimaging studies show that rhythm perception activates structures within key motor networks, such as premotor and supplementary motor areas, basal ganglia and the cerebellum – many of which are compromised to varying degrees in Parkinson’s disease. It thus seems likely that automatic engagement of motor areas during rhythm perception may be the connecting link between music and motor improvements in Parkinson’s disease. This review seeks to describe the link, address core questions about its underlying mechanisms, and examine whether it can be utilized as a compensatory mechanism.

Music & Medicine Events @ University of Toronto

Music Care Conference – Saturday Nov 9
A day of practical workshops, presentations, and performances intended for applied care givers – doctors, nurses, social workers, long-term care professionals, religious workers, music therapists, family members, etc.

Featured speakers include:

Jason & Marjorie Crigler – Jason Crigler, professional guitarist in the downtown New York music scene, had a stroke in the middle of a show leaving him immobile and barely responsive. Doctors thought Jason would need to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. Today he leads a normal, productive life. Jason and his sister Marjorie deliver a powerful multimedia presentation, Defying The Odds.  Jason’s story was the subject of the award-winning documentary Life. Support. Music. which aired on PBS’ POV series in 2009.

Dan Cohen is founder and executive director of Music & Memory (the iPod Project) which promotes the use of digital music players to improve the quality of life for elders, regardless of their physical or cognitive status.  The iPod project now runs in more than 100 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospices in 24 states and 7 countries, and has been covered on CNN, CBC, NPR, The New York Times, CBS’s The Doctors, and the Huffington Post.

Robin Rio, Associate Professor and Director of the Music Therapy Clinic at Arizona State University, is the author of Connecting through Music with People with Dementia: A Guide for Caregivers, which strives to give caregivers tools to use music in improving quality of life. Her clinical work has focused on improving communication and helping to facilitate opportunities for strengthening social, spiritual and physical well- being

Murray McLauchlan is one of Canada’s best songwriting performers presents, Celebrating the Stories of Life.  To experience him perform is to enjoy creative storytelling, social commentary and wit with a man who clearly enjoys sharing his music and experiences with an audience.  Murray has nineteen albums to his credit on both True North Records and Capitol Records. Murray has won eleven JUNO awards, as well as RPM “Big Country” awards and Toronto music awards.

Music Medicine Research Symposia

These symposia will review the “state of the art” in research in each field, present current research studies underway, and each end with a discussion moderated by noted Toronto rehab cardiologist Dr. David Alter focusing on future directions in music medicine research.

Featured presentations from Russell Hilliard, Chicago; Vera Brandes, Austria; Jaakko Erkkilä, Finland, Ralph Spintge, Germany, and Joanne Loewy, New York.
Research reports will include and number of MaHRC scholars.

Russell Hilliard, PhD, LCSW, LCAT,MT-BC is the National Director of Supportive Care, Research, and Ethics of Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care based out of Chicago, IL and the Founder of the Center for Music Therapy in End of Life Care.  He is the author of the text, Hospice and Palliative Care Music Therapy: A Guide to Program Development and Clinical Care.

Vera Brandes. Director of the Research Program in Music-Medicine, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria. Vice-President of the International Association for Music & Medicine.
Jaakko Erkkilä is Professor of Music Therapy at the Department of Music at the University of Jyväskylä (UJy, Finland). He has a qualification of psychotherapist and he is trained as a music therapist from Sibelius Academy (Helsinki, Finland) and UJy.

Dr. Ralph Spintge, MD. Professor of MusicMedicine at Sportklinik Hellersen, Lüdenscheid;  University for Music and Drama HfMT Hamburg; President of the International Society for Music in Medicine; Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Music & Medicine.

Joanne Loewy, DA, LCAT, MT-BC.  Director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, New York.  Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Music & Medicine.

For more information and registration please see:

Journal of Music Therapy

The Journal of Music Therapy focuses on publishing scholarly article that advance the field of music therapy through multiple different means. These articles have a variety of research approaches; they can be quantitative, historical or theoretical and can range from specific effects to professional fields to more general foundational topics. The most recent issue from the Summer of 2013 presents an article promoting mixed methods research in music therapy, as well as articles at focus on specific empirical studies, such as the effect of music therapy on emotional-approach coping.

Developmental and Cross-Cultural Issues

For this portion of next week’s discussion, please read the Hannon et al. (2012) “Effects of perceptual experience on children’s and adults’ perception of unfamiliar rhythms.”  If you have time, it would also be helpful to look at the other Hannon (2012) article “Familiarity over complexity,” as it has a different focus (more of the cross-cultural aspect than the developmental focus of the first article.)

After reading the article, think through some of these guiding questions and submit a short response (and feel free to bring up something that isn’t mentioned below).  It is more important to have at least given thought to the different perspectives on the paper than for each of these aspects to appear in the response.

–What questions do you have about the article and its methodology?  What, if any, doubts arose as you read the paper?
–What do you think of the concept of a “sensitive/critical period” in terms of rhythmic and cultural development and their relationship?  (Have you had any interaction with this concept before?)
–What are your experiences with nonisochronous music, either in everyday life or in your music theory study?  If you have had an academic interaction with this music, think about the intersection between these readings and those for the Expertise discussion, both with regards to differences in sensitivity depending on age and what the markers of this cultural sensitivity are (familiarity versus complexity.)


Expertise Group Discussion (9/26)

Hello all,

For next week’s discussion, it would be helpful if you at least skimmed the Rammsayer (2006) and the Geisert article (2010). Before you do that, however, think about this question: How has your time working as a professional musician changed how you interact with rhythms in the world, and how can you tell that your perceptions are different from those of your non-musically trained peers?

After you’ve read these readings, it’d be helpful for me to have a response so that I can see how much you already know about how expertise can change the cortex of the brain. For a response, it would be great if you wrote a (short) description of how the experiments differed, and why you think those differing methodologies each gave a different answer to a similar question. At the end of your response, I think it’s especially interesting to look at these from your own musical perspective, so please do also touch on how you may or may not have seen these results in real performance and practice.

Thanks, and I’ll see you in the next class!



Week 3 Assignment

1. Readings: Read Drake & Bertrand (2003); review abstracts for Winkler & al. (2009) and Madison & Merker (2002).

2. Student-led discussions: Complete assigned readings and review abstracts for optional readings for the Developmental & Cross-Cultural Issues (discussion leader: Greta) and Expertise (discussion leader: Julia) topics. Required readings are posted on the “Forum” page and optional readings are listed in the syllabus (pp. 7-8); all readings are available on classes*v2 in the corresponding topical folder. Feel free to post preliminary comments to either or both assigned readings (as replies to the original post) by next Tuesday, 11:59 PM, as suggested by discussion leaders.

3. Empirical Methods Tutorial: Please review the contents of the “Empirical Knowledge” handout. You may also proceed to complete Group Task #2 and Group Task #4, but not Group Task #3.

4. Group experiment: Complete step 1 as detailed on the “Groups Projects” page. There are three separate deadlines for this, and it is imperative that you complete these on time so that your group is not held up! Also, take the time to review your colleagues’ comments to your top two questions as this will make the in-class discussion and question selection more productive.

Stephen’s “K…” or Caplin’s “H…”?

Very helpful to have an office and the Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (ed. Christensen, 2002) at the tip of my fingers. Here is Phillipp Kirnberger (1721-1783), cited by Caplin:

“it is necessarily required that such a series of [undifferentiated] tones group themselves into units of equal length… These equally long and equally shaped units now constitute what one calls meter in music… It is also necessary to have accents, because without them the ear would have no cause to group the series of tones into equally formed units.” (668)

Although, I thought that what Stephen might have been remembering, and what Longuet-Higgins and Lee (1982) referred to as “isochronous continuation,” might be Moritz Hauptman’s (1792-1868) dialectical and “proto-phenomenological” (Caplin, 2002: 677) theory of time projection recycled by Chris Hasty (1997) into an analytical method for twentieth-century music. For Hauptman, the appearance of a second beat demarcates the completion of the duration associated with a first beat, and it is not until a third beat is initiated that one will group these two equal beats into a larger “two-timed” meter. Those interested in reviewing the whole argument shoud consult Caplin (2002: 677-682). In both of these theories of meter induction, there is an assumption that we expect the series of equally spaced events to continue without being interrupted by an event onset that is either too “early” or too “late.” Here is Longuet-Higgins and Lee (1982) as summarized by Clarke (1999):

“after two onsets (O1 and O2) have been detected, a third onset (O3) is predicted to occur at the same time interval after the second event as the second is after the first… Confirmation of this prediction (by the arrival of an event at or near to O3) causes the system to jump up a level in the emerging metrical hierarchy…” (484)