A cross-cultural approach to narrative experiences of music
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AbstractListeners sometimes hear abstract music without lyrics in terms of imagined stories, as if they were listening to battles or love stories unfold instead of merely to trumpet fanfares or a violin line. Although music scholars have devoted considerable attention to developing theories to explain this phenomenon in terms of structural features (e.g., musical contrast) and extra-musical associations that can emerge within a culture (topicality), these theories have received almost no empirical investigation. Toward this end, this project takes a theory-driven, cross-cultural approach to investigate the factors that shape narrative listening; of interest were potential contributions of musical contrast and topicality to listeners' narrative engagement with music. Stimuli were 128 one-minute excerpts of instrumental music, half Chinese and half Western in origin. The excerpts varied systematically in contrast and topicality based on the ratings of independent sets of expert music theorists. Narrative experiences for these musical excerpts were assessed for listeners in two locations in the Midwestern U.S. in comparison to listeners in a remote village in rural China. Results reveal (1) similar high levels of narrative engagement with music across cultures with a bias to hear narratives (and enjoy excerpts) to a greater degree when listening to music from one's own culture, (2) a similar general pattern of narrative engagement with music for both the Western and Chinese listeners, but (3) relative independence across cultures in the excerpts triggering narrative engagement (and enjoyment) for both Western and Chinese excerpts. Finally, in data collected to date, topicality is the biggest predictor of hearing a story in response to a musical excerpt, but this appears to be true only for Western participants listening to Western musical excerpts.
All Author(s) ListDevin McAuley, Gabrielle Kindig, Rhimmon Simchy-Gross, Carolyn Kroger, Natalie Phillips, Patrick Wong, Elizabeth Margulis
Name of Conference17th Annual Auditory Perception, Cognition, and Action Meeting
Start Date of Conference15/11/2018
End Date of Conference15/11/2018
Place of ConferenceNew Orleans, Louisiana
Country/Region of ConferenceUnited States of America
Year2018
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2020-27-02 at 13:59