The Psychology of Music book cover

The Psychology of Music

The Psychology of Music serves as an introduction to an interdisciplinary field in psychology, which focuses on the interpretation of music through mental function. This interpretation leads to the characterization of music through perceiving, remembering, creating, performing, and responding to music. In particular, the book provides an overview of the perception of musical tones by discussing different sound characteristics, like loudness, pitch and timbre, together with interaction between these attributes. It also discusses the effect of computer resources on the psychological study of music through computational modeling. In this way, models of pitch perception, grouping and voice separation, and harmonic analysis were developed. The book further discusses musical development in social and emotional contexts, and it presents ways that music training can enhance the singing ability of an individual. The book can be used as a reference source for perceptual and cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, and musicians. It can also serve as a textbook for advanced courses in the psychological study of music.

Musicians; psychologists; students interested in and studying the psychology of music.

Paperback, 786 Pages

Published: November 2012

Imprint: Academic Press

ISBN: 978-0-12-381460-9


  • "The attributes of The Psychology of Music are thoroughness, authority and clarity. That one volume can so adeptly select, draw on, arrange, assess, amplify its material and invite the reader to draw meaningful and reliable conclusions relevant to his/her love of music is a huge achievement. That the book does so with apposite and well-adduced illustrations while at the same time blending technical and specialist accuracy with accessibility is remarkable. Thoroughness and interest, a refreshing amalgam of (the authors') enthusiasm with their collective and individual command of the literature and practices in the field(s) of each make it nothing short of superb as a reference (to be consulted) and a narrative (to be read from cover to cover) by lovers of serious music of all types." - Excerpt of review by Mark Sealey for


  • List of Contributors


    1 The Perception of Musical Tones

        I. Introduction

        II. Perception of Single Tones

        III. Perception of Sound Combinations

        IV. Conclusions and Outlook



    2 Musical Timbre Perception

        I. Psychophysics of Timbre

        II. Timbre as a Vehicle for Source Identity

        III. Timbre as a Structuring Force in Music Perception

        IV. Concluding Remarks



    3 Perception of Singing

        I. Introduction

        II. Voice Function

        III. Phonation

        IV. Resonance

        V. Intensity and Masking

        VI. Aspects of Voice Timbre

        VII. Vibrato

        VIII. Intonation in Practice

        IX. Expression

        X. Concluding Remarks


    4 Intervals and Scales

        I. Introduction

        II. Pitch Intervals

        III. Scales and Tuning Systems

        IV. Overview



    5 Absolute Pitch

        I. Introduction

        II. Implicit AP

        III. Genesis of AP

        IV. AP and Speech Processing

        V. AP and Pitch Processing

        VI. Neuroanatomical Substrates of AP

        VII. AP Accuracy and Stimulus Characteristics

        VIII. Pitch Shifts in AP Possessors

        IX. AP in Special Populations

        X. Conclusion



    6 Grouping Mechanisms in Music

        I. Introduction

        II. Fusion and Separation of Spectral Components

        III. Larger-Scale Groupings

        IV. Auditory Streaming and Implied Polyphony

        V. Grouping and Phrase Structure

        VI. Grouping of Simultaneous Tone Sequences

        VII. Grouping of Equal-Interval Tone Complexes

        VIII. Relationships to Music Theory and Practice



    7 The Processing of Pitch Combinations

        I. Introduction

        II. Feature Abstraction

        III. Abstraction of Higher-Order Shapes

        IV. The Organization of Short-Term Memory for Tones

        V. Paradoxes Based on Pitch Class

        VI. Illusory Transformation from Speech to Song

        VII. Conclusion



    8 Computational Models of Music Cognition

        I. Introduction

        II. Models of Key-Finding

        III. Models of Meter-Finding

        IV. Other Aspects of Perception

        V. Models of Musical Experience

        VI. Models of Performance

        VII. Models of Composition

        VIII. Conclusions



    9 Structure and Interpretation of Rhythm in Music

        I. Introduction

        II. Overview: Decomposing the Rhythmic Signal

        III. Structure and Interpretation: Visualizing Rhythm Space

        IV. Rhythmic Pattern: Representation

        V. Rhythmic Pattern and Timing: Categorization

        VI. Metrical Structure

        VII. Tempo and Timing: Perceptual Invariance

        VIII. Rhythm and Movement: Embodied Cognition




    10 Music Performance: Movement and Coordination

        I. Introduction

        II. Movement in Performance

        III. Ensemble Performance

        IV. Summary



    11 Musical Development

        I. Origins of Music

        II. Musical Development in a Social Context

        III. Musical Enculturation and Critical Periods for Musical Acquisition

        IV. Music Production: Development of Singing

        V. Effects of Formal Music Training on Musical Development

        VI. Interactions between Music Experience and Nonmusical Abilities

        VII. General Conclusions



    12 Music and Cognitive Abilities

        I. Introduction

        II. Music Aptitude and Cognitive Abilities

        III. Cognitive Abilities after Listening to Music

        IV. Background Music and Cognitive Abilities

        V. Music Training and Cognitive Abilities

        VI. Conclusions



    13 The Biological Foundations of Music: Insights from Congenital Amusia

        I. Congenital Amusia

        II. Pitch Is Special

        III. Right Frontotemporal Connectivity Is Key

        IV. Music Genes

        V. Limited Plasticity

        VI. Conclusions



    14 Brain Plasticity Induced by Musical Training

        I. Introduction

        II. Behavioral Studies: The Effects of Musical Training on Cognitive Performance

        III. Imaging Studies: The Effects of Musical Training on Brain Organization

        IV. Auditory-Motor Interactions Underlie Music and Language Learning

        V. Music-based Treatments to Modulate Brain Plasticity: Melodic Intonation Therapy and Auditory-Motor Mapping Training

        VI. Concluding Remarks



    15 Music and Emotion

        I. History

        II. Emotion Theory

        III. Perception of Emotion

        IV. Arousal of Emotion

        V. Themes in Current Research

        VI. Implications and Outlook


    16 Comparative Music Cognition: Cross-Species and Cross-Cultural Studies

        I. Introduction

        II. Cross-Species Studies

        III. Cross-Cultural Studies

        IV. Conclusion



    17 Psychologists and Musicians: Then and Now

        I. Helmholtz and Basevi in the 1860s

        II. Seashore and Kurth in the 1920s

        III. France's and Meyer in the 1950s

        IV. Psychologists and Musicians Today

        V. A Continuing Challenge


    Author Index

    Subject Index


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