Honing, H., & Ladinig, O. (2009). Exposure influences expressive timing judgments in music. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35(1), 281-288.


This study is concerned with the question whether, and if so to what extent, listeners' previous exposure to music in everyday life, and expertise as a result of formal musical training, play a role in making expressive timing judgments in music. This was investigated by using a Web-based listening experiment in which listeners with a wide range of musical backgrounds were asked to compare two different recordings of the same composition (fifteen pairs, grouped in three musical genres), one of which was tempo-transformed. The results show that expressive timing judgments are not influenced by expertise levels, as suggested by the expertise hypothesis, but by exposure to a certain musical idiom, as suggested by the exposure hypothesis. Apparently, frequent listening to a certain musical genre allows listeners, with and without formal musical training, to implicitly learn the timing patterns that are characteristic for that style, and to use this (implicit) knowledge to discriminate between a real and a tempo-transformed recording. As such, and in addition to what has recently been shown in the pitch domain (Bigand & Poulin-Charronnat, 2006), the current study provides evidence in the temporal domain for the idea that some musical capabilities are acquired through exposure to music, and that these abilities are more likely enhanced by active listening (exposure) than by formal musical training (expertise).

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