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The organization of memory for familiar songs
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition
  • Andrea Halpern, Bucknell University
Publication Date

Investigated the organizing principles in memory for familiar songs in 2 experiments. It was hypothesized that individuals do not store and remember each song in isolation. Rather, there exists a rich system of relationships among tunes that can be revealed through similarity rating studies and memory tasks. One initial assumption was the division of relations among tunes into musical (e.g., tempo, rhythm) and nonmusical similarity. In Exp I, 20 undergraduates were asked to sort 60 familiar tunes into groups according to both musical and nonmusical criteria. Clustering analyses showed clear patterns of nonmusical similarity but few instances of musical similarity. Exp II, with 16 Ss, explored the psychological validity of the nonmusical relationships revealed in Exp I. A speeded verification task showed that songs similar to each other are confused more often than are distantly related songs. A free-recall task showed greater clustering for closely related songs than for distantly related ones. The relationship between these studies and studies of semantic memory is discussed. Also, the contribution of musical training and individual knowledge to the organization of the memory system is considered. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Citation Information
Andrea Halpern. "The organization of memory for familiar songs" Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition (1984) p. 496 - 512
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