Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance

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Taylor & Francis, Mar 31, 2010 - Psychology - 349 pages
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Why are some disturbances of air molecules heard as 'noise' while others are perceived as music? What happens at the level of the sound wave, the ear, and the brain when we perform or listen to music? How do musical abilities emerge and develop, and become refined as one acquires musical expertise? And what gives music its deep emotional significance and its power to influence social behavior, across vastly different cultural contexts? These are some of the primary questions defining the field called 'the psychology of music' and driving the present volume.

This book provides an introduction to classic and current studies in the psychology of music, combining a comprehensive summary with critical assessments of existing research. The volume captures the interdisciplinary breadth of the field, while covering central topics in depth. Part One explores sound and music at an acoustic level, explaining auditory events with respect to the workings of the ear and brain. Part Two focuses on perception and cognition of melody, rhythm, and formal structure. Part Three examines the emergence and development of musical skills, and turns to the most practical aspects of psychology of music: music practice and performance. Finally, Part Four broadens the discussion to the question of meaning in music, with respect to its social, emotional, philosophical, and cultural significance. Throughout, both behavioral and neuroscientific perspectives are developed.

This book will be invaluable to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the fields of psychology and music, and will appeal to anyone else who is interested in the psychology of music.

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About the author (2010)

Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan USA. She graduated in Music Education and Piano Pedagogy and taught music for many years in Hong Kong and California before completing an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology at Georgetown University. Her research has focused on musical unity, music notation, and film music, and her primary instrument is piano.

Peter Pfordresher is Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY Buffalo in New York USA. He completed his Ph.D. in Psychology at the Ohio State University. His research interests include the role of auditory feedback in music performance and causes of inaccurate singing. He has experience in musical performance with piano, trumpet, and voice, as well as song writing.

Rom Harré is Emeritus Fellow of Linacre College, Oxford University. Currently he is Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, and Director of the Centre for the Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences at the London School of Economics. He has performed in various amateur ensembles on clarinet and saron.

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