A visual signal indicated the end of the trial; participants were told that this meant that they should be finished or almost finished imagining the passage. Along with the brief instructions that remained on the screen throughout the condition, this was the only visual information given. Participants were then allowed a short break and again indicated by clicking the mouse button when they were ready to begin the next trial. A similar procedure was used in the tapping condition. Participants indicated when they were ready to begin, and two seconds later a cue was presented. The task was to tap out the rhythm of the main melody for the passage on the drumpad.
Using the index or middle finger of their dominant hand, participants were to begin tapping as soon as possible after the cue began. When the music faded out, they were to keep tapping the melody while imagining the continuation of the passage. Again, a visual signal indicated the end of each trial, at which point participants were allowed a short break and indicated that they were ready to continue by clicking the mouse button. The experimenter remained in the room during testing to ensure that participants were not engaging in any unwanted production behaviour, such as vocalising the music.
They were likewise cautioned against guessing, skipping sections or starting over mid-trial and, instead, were told to press a key to end a trial if they got lost or distracted while imagining the passage. As in the imagery task, brief instructions remained on the computer screen throughout each condition. Participants indicated when they were ready to begin by clicking the mouse on a start button, and two seconds later the music began.
Instead of fading out after a few seconds, however, passages were played in their entirety. The task in the loudness condition was again to map out the loudness changes in the passage by continuously adjusting the slider. Participants began each trial with the slider in the bottom silent position and, when the music began playing, were to adjust it as quickly as possible to match loudness of the music they were hearing. They continued adjusting the slider until the passage concluded and a visual signal indicated the end of the trial, at which point they were allowed a short break before continuing.
The task in the tapping condition was again to tap out the rhythm of the main melody for each passage. Participants were to begin tapping the rhythm as soon as possible after the music began, and continue tapping throughout the duration of the trial. When the passage concluded, a visual signal indicated the end of the trial, just as in the imagery task, and participants were again allowed a short break before continuing.
An automated version of the Operation Span Task designed by Turner and Engle  was used to assess working memory. This task was selected from among the various available measures of working memory span on the basis of its high validity and reliability  and because it relies less than other measures on language abilities, which may also vary systematically as a function of musical expertise . Participants received instructions and practice trials on the computer.
During the task, equations containing two operations were presented in the centre of the computer screen e. Participants indicated that they had mentally solved the equation by clicking the mouse button. An upper-case letter was then displayed for one second in the centre of the screen. All numbers and letters were presented in a sans-serif font and the same font size measuring. They were informed that after each set of between two and seven equations, they would be asked to recall the letters in the order they were presented. No access to pen and paper or other aids was permitted.
It was hypothesised that participants in all expertise groups would be able to imagine the loudness of the passages, but that experts would imagine it more veridically than would either novices or non-musicians. Acoustic intensity was used as a reference in the current study because it has been shown to be the primary contributor to perceived loudness . Table 2 lists the dependent variables and their definitions. These comparisons were made using time series analysis and dynamic time warping, as data points within profiles were not independent and correlations would have been uninformative.
The three dependent variables and potential covariate measures of listening ability and working memory span then were examined to investigate the expected effects of expertise. Because the passages were long, participants were not always able to remember them in their entirety.
The first stage of analysis, therefore, involved identifying participant profiles that corresponded to accurately recalled music so that this subset of participant data could be assessed for image veridicality. Dynamic time warping DTW was used to assess the accuracy of imagined tapping profiles, or their similarity to reference note onset profiles, as well as their length see Appendix S1. Tapping profiles were composed of the series of IOIs between each tap. An original aim of the study had been to investigate imagery for expressive timing as well as loudness.
However, the great difficulty many participants had in tapping out rhythms under both imagery and listening conditions meant that neither perceived nor imagined expressive timing could be meaningfully assessed. Tapping data are therefore only presented as the basis for a decision to retain or exclude participant loudness profiles.
Rated loudness is subjective and a function of multiple acoustic parameters  ,  , so variation in loudness profiles was expected between participants even in the listening condition. A second comparison of imagined and listening loudness profiles was made using DTW to assess how much of each passage participants were able to imagine. While image-listening similarity indicated similarity between imagined and listening loudness profiles in only as much of a passage as the participant tapped out correctly during the imagined tapping task, full-length imagined and listening loudness profiles were compared as an assessment of recall during the imagined loudness task see Appendix S1.
As not all participants were able to meet the inclusion criteria for both stimuli, expertise groups based on OMSI score tertiles were calculated separately for each stimulus to ensure that sample sizes would be similar between groups though not identical, since there were some ties in OMSI score. To determine whether expertise groups differed in how precisely their imagined loudness profiles reconstructed recording intensity profiles, three dependent variables and two potential covariates were entered into a MANCOVA for each of the experimental stimuli: The proportion of trials excluded from the analysis was high due to the necessarily strict inclusion criteria i.
A total of 35 participant profiles were retained for the Blue Danube 20 excluded and a total of 36 participant profiles were retained for Habanera 19 excluded. The high exclusion rates suggest that participants found recalling the long passages to be a difficult task despite the familiarisation period.
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Table 3 lists the number of profiles excluded for each of the two stimuli and the reason for each exclusion. Familiarity ratings were also analysed to ensure that differences between expertise groups in imagery task performance were not attributable to differences in familiarity. Familiarity ratings from the start of the familiarisation phase and the time of the main experiment session, for all participants who met the inclusion criteria, were entered into a MANOVA with expertise group as the independent variable.
Figure S2 shows the intensity profiles and grand average imagined and listening loudness profiles for each piece.
To see whether imagery task performance co-varied with either working memory span or listening abilities, correlations between the dependent variables and covariates were examined Table 4. Recall and image-listening similarity were significantly correlated for both passages. Listening-intensity similarity, the measure of listening ability, did not differ systematically between expertise groups, and it did not correlate with any of the dependent variables, so it was not included as a covariate in the subsequent MANCOVAs.
Since a higher OSPAN score corresponds to better working memory task performance and a lower score for recall corresponds to greater similarity between imagined and listening loudness profiles, a negative correlation between these variables suggests that people with larger working memory capacities tended to recall more of the Habanera excerpt.
Logarithmic transformations were applied to the image-listening similarity and recall measures to approximate normality. Planned comparisons indicated that at a Dunn-Sidak adjusted alpha of. Image-listening similarity, recall and image-intensity similarity improved with increasing expertise Table 5 , though in terms of image-intensity similarity, the difference between non-musician and novice group means was negligible.
Logarithmic transformations were similarly applied to the image-listening similarity and recall measures to approximate normality. The main effect of group was not significant, but planned comparisons indicated a difference between non-musicians and a combination of novices and experts that was marginally significant at an adjusted alpha of.
Image-listening similarity and recall improved with increasing expertise Table 5 , though non-musicians and experts displayed similar image-intensity similarity. In the literature on mental imagery, more attention has been paid to imagery for parameters that can be intrinsic to individual sound events, such as pitch, than parameters that are dynamic  ,  , or meaningful because of how they change through time, such as melody or loudness . The question of whether expressive loudness can be imagined and the relationship between expertise in music performance and the ability to imagine loudness were investigated with a set of tasks that required people to judge loudness under cued-imagery and listening conditions.
Image- and listening-intensity similarity measures were comparable in magnitude, demonstrating a similarity between imagined and listening loudness. Participants in all expertise groups made imagined loudness judgements that were consistent with the loudness judgements they made while listening to the same passages of music, providing evidence that the ability to imagine loudness is widespread. Differences between groups in the accuracy with which loudness profiles were replicated during the imagery task suggest that the veridicality of imagined loudness may improve with increasing musical expertise.
As predicted, neither listening ability nor working memory capacity could account entirely for imagery task performance. Listening-intensity similarity did not correlate with any of the dependent variables for either stimulus or vary systematically with expertise across the two stimuli. Since loudness is a perceptual correlate rather than a direct measure of intensity, some deviation between intensity and listening loudness judgments should be expected.
The between-subject differences in listening loudness judgments that were observed emphasise the importance of comparing imagined loudness profiles not only to recording intensity profiles, but to listening loudness as well. The absence of a relationship between listening ability and imagery task performance suggests that greater perceptual acuity or attention to detail during music listening does not imply more effective retention. Though the lack of expertise effects on listening ability observed here is in contrast to some previous literature showing a positive correlation between musical expertise and perceptual acuity  ,  ,  , in other studies, the predicted relationship between musical expertise and music perception or listening task performance has not been supported  ,  , .
Further investigation is needed to clarify how perceptual acuity for individual parameters such as pitch, timbre, or duration relates to the perception of music in more naturalistic contexts, when multiple parameters are sounded in combination. Further investigation is also needed to investigate how music listening abilities relate to the effectiveness of encoding in memory, and how this process is affected by expertise, as the present study was not designed to address these questions.
The results of this experiment do not indicate a relationship between working memory capacity and musical expertise, since working memory capacity did not differ significantly between expertise groups. Furthermore, the results provide only limited evidence of a relationship between working memory capacity and musical imagery, since significant correlations between OSPAN score and imagery task performance were found for only one of the musical passages. This suggests that participants with greater working memory spans tended to recall more of the Habanera excerpt. A relationship between working memory span and recall might have been masked by floor effects for the Blue Danube.
The Blue Danube is a slow piece and in triple meter, while Habanera is faster and in duple meter. The main theme spans an equal number of bars in each piece, but this equates to a longer period of time for the Blue Danube , which may have made sustaining a mental image a more challenging task. Structural differences in tempo or meter or differences in familiarity may also have rendered Habanera easier to segment and retain in memory than the Blue Danube. On a broader scale, prior research suggests that instead of remembering long sequences of information, such as passages of music, in serial order, people remember them in meaningful chunks, with one chunk acting as a retrieval cue for the next  ,  ,  , .
Recall fails when chunks are not reassembled properly in working memory . The results of this experiment are consistent with the difficulty people are reported to have in recalling long sequences of music when the only retrieval cues available are imagined . Of additional interest was the possibility that asymmetric differences in musical imagery ability would be observed between the three expertise groups.
Though experts outperformed non-musicians on both pieces, novices did not differ reliably from the other two groups. Greater between-subject differences among novices in terms of musical abilities, combined with structural differences between the two pieces e. Continued study of the relationship between musical experience and understanding of musical structure is needed to determine how imagery ability is affected by their interaction.
Though most participants made loudness judgements at a global level, identifying only large-scale changes, examination of time series plots for imagined and listening loudness profiles suggests a minority made judgements at a local, phrasal level during one or both of the imagery and listening conditions Figure S3. Whether people were to judge loudness changes at a local or global level was not specified in the experiment instructions, partly to avoid introducing a concept with which non-musicians might be unfamiliar.
Though most of the participants whose profiles showed evidence of phrasing were experts, not all experts made loudness judgments at a phrasal level, and not all novices or non-musicians made loudness judgements at only a global level. This indicates that while the resolution at which loudness judgments tend to be made may vary as a function of expertise, it is not entirely dependent on prior musical experience. A high proportion of participants failed to meet the inclusion criteria for analysis, which were based on the ability to recall at least two-thirds of a stimulus and accurately tap out its rhythm under cued-imagery conditions.
High exclusion rates were expected, as it was necessary to exclude participants who could not recall enough of the music to be able to attempt the imagined loudness task with any possibility of accuracy. However, as a number of studies have shown that people are capable of accurately imagining note durations  ,  ,  ,  , it is more likely in this case that the passages were too long for most participants to recall without repeated prompting . During debriefing, virtually all participants said they had trouble remembering all of the passages, suggesting that to achieve better recall, a more intensive familiarisation period or shorter musical passages should be used.
A related and surprising finding was the great degree of difficulty many of the participants with little or no musical experience had in tapping out rhythms while listening to the music. Beat-tapping tasks have been used in several studies to investigate musical imagery ability  ,  ,  , and research has shown that non-musicians can accurately synchronise tapping with the beat of sounded music  ,  ,  ; however, research on non-isochronous rhythm tapping ability in imagery and listening conditions and its relationship to musical expertise is lacking .
People have previously been found to predict beats more accurately when simultaneous auditory input is available than when it is not available . Given such a finding, participants in the present study might have been expected to tap rhythms more accurately during the listening condition than during the imagery condition. Instead, for many participants, tapping task performance was poor under both imagery and listening conditions.
- Musical Expertise and the Ability to Imagine Loudness.
- Studies on New Music Research.
It may be that some participants had difficulty identifying melodic lines in the multi-layered orchestral music that was used, though the experimental passages were selected in part because they had relatively simple rhythms and clear, well-known melodies to minimise this potential problem. Participants may also have had difficulty coordinating tapping movements and synchronising them with the sounds they were hearing or imagining. Listeners have previously been found to synchronise tapping more accurately with regular, mechanical versions of musical passages than versions performed with expressive timing .
In the current study, all of the musical excerpts were performed with expressive timing. Additional research is needed to determine how widespread the ability to tap non-isochronous musical rhythms is, and to determine how success on rhythm tapping tasks is influenced by simultaneous auditory input and the complexity of the music. Theories differ in how they conceptualise mental imagery  , . Depictive theories propose that images and their physical analogues are similar in form, such that relationships present in a physical stimulus are preserved when that stimulus is imagined  ,  , .
Descriptive theories posit that mental representation occurs by way of a symbolic, language-like code . It has been argued that evidence taken as support for depictive theories is often inconclusive, as successful performance on tasks assumed to require depictive imagery may be achieved by drawing on abstract knowledge about the world . In a study by Wu et al. Upon subsequent presentation of a visual cue, they were to imagine the corresponding tone, then compare the imagined tone to a sounded tone. EEG recordings revealed that the late positive complex previously found to relate to the generation of mental images was greater in amplitude when participants attempted to imagine loud tones than when they attempted to imagine quiet tones.
This pattern mirrors that observed for the auditory-perception related N1 component, which is greater in amplitude when tones with high acoustic intensity are perceived than when tones with low acoustic intensity are perceived. The current experiment also offers support for the depictivist account of mental imagery. In studying mental imagery, it is a major challenge to discriminate between depictive and descriptive imagery and to provide evidence that one type was used to complete a particular task, while the other was not. In some previous research, imagery tasks have been developed that place heavy demands on memory, rendering successful task performance highly unlikely without the aid of depictive imagery .
With the method used in the present study, it is unlikely that participants could have mapped out loudness contours with high temporal precision had they not used a depictive image in which temporality was preserved. While it is possible that some descriptive knowledge was used in addition to this depictive image, achieving the same result by relying exclusively on descriptive knowledge of the pieces would have been extremely difficult, especially given that participants were not previously informed that the music would have to be recalled and were not instructed to attend to loudness or timing information until just before beginning the imagery task.
The method used in this experiment yielded results that were suggestive of a relationship between musical expertise and the ability to imagine loudness. Some non-musicians outperformed some experts, indicating that the tasks were accessible to people without musical training, despite the use of complex, naturalistic stimuli. As an early attempt to address the question of whether expressive loudness can be imagined, limits to the generalisability of the results from this experiment are acknowledged. While they suggest that expressive loudness can be imagined, they indicate that the ability to do so when imagining familiar music is also contingent on the ability to recall the music in the first place, then satisfy any motor demands the task may involve.
The strict inclusion criteria filtered out participants who were unable to recall the passages or tap out their rhythms, potentially biasing the sample in favour of those with better memories for music. Perhaps the participants who failed to meet the inclusion criteria are less able to imagine loudness than the participants whose imagined loudness profiles were analysed.
If this is the case, then the ability to imagine loudness may not be as widespread as the results of this study suggest. Also, it might be argued that a study such as this assesses long-term memory for music rather than imagery ability. While imagined loudness data from the participants who were least capable of recalling the passages were not included in the analyses, it is possible that the differences in imagery task performance observed among the remaining participants were the result of differences in long-term memory rather than imagery ability. In our ongoing research, we are attempting to avoid this potential confound by asking participants to imagine short, novel music sequences containing changes in loudness instead of longer passages of familiar music .
In most previous research on imagined loudness, the precision of imagery for the loudness of individual notes has been the focus of investigation, with conflicting results  ,  , . In the present study, non-musicians, novice musicians, and expert musicians made continuous loudness judgements that were consistent across imagined and listening conditions, consistent with the hypothesis that loudness can be imagined. Some support was offered for the predicted relationship between musical expertise and the ability to imagine the loudness of familiar music.
Neither listening ability nor working memory capacity co-varied consistently with musical imagery ability or musical expertise. Future research should investigate the possible mechanisms by which imagined relative loudness is achieved, which could include drawing on structural information stored in memory to reconstruct the auditory image, or a surface retrieval of specific loudness details.
Further study may also indicate whether the ability to imagine music underlies the extraordinary precision and flexibility characteristic of expert music performance . Intensity and grand average imagined and listening loudness profiles. Grand average profiles were calculated for the purpose of illustration only; comparisons between imagined loudness, listening loudness, and recording intensity profiles were only ever calculated within-subjects.
Recording intensity and sample novice and expert imagined loudness profiles. Time is measured in ms intervals.
Earworms – Music & Science Lab
A period of approximately 30 events precedes the start of the forecasts because the models included intensity lags of The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Feb The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Received Aug 20; Accepted Jan 8. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited. Abstract Most perceived parameters of sound e. Introduction Most of the sounds people encounter in their daily lives are dynamic. Musical Imagery Musical imagery is defined for the purposes of this research as the conscious experience of music in the absence of corresponding environmental input.
Musical Expertise and Memory Expertise is characterised by a maximisation of efficiency in the processing networks underlying performance on a specific set of tasks . Skills Associated with Musical Imagery Ability In the design of any task used to assess the relationship between musical imagery ability and expertise, the skills musicians have refined explicitly through years of practice and training need to be taken into account. Present Research Musicians stress that it is important to be able to imagine the desired effects of their actions in order to produce them  , implying that those who are better at performing music are likewise better at imagining it.
Experiencing earworms: An interview study of Involuntary Musical Imagery
Participants Fifty-eight participants from a variety of musical backgrounds took part in the experiment. Stimuli One excerpt was taken from each of three well-known pieces of Romantic-style orchestral music Blue Danube Waltz , Habanera , and Jupiter. Table 1 Musical stimuli for imagery and listening tasks.
Open in a separate window. Carmen, Habanera , by St. Design A three-factor mixed model design was used, with expertise group acting as a between-subjects independent variable and task imagery or listening and condition loudness or tapping acting as within-subject independent variables. Procedure The first phase of the experiment was designed to ensure that all participants were familiar with the same version of each well-known music stimulus and able to recall the passages. The following instructions were given for the imagined loudness task: Imagery task In the loudness condition, brief instructions were presented on screen.
Listening task As in the imagery task, brief instructions remained on the computer screen throughout each condition. Analysis It was hypothesised that participants in all expertise groups would be able to imagine the loudness of the passages, but that experts would imagine it more veridically than would either novices or non-musicians. Table 2 Measures for evaluating imagined and listening loudness profiles. Identification of correctly recalled profiles Because the passages were long, participants were not always able to remember them in their entirety.
Image-listening similarity Rated loudness is subjective and a function of multiple acoustic parameters  ,  , so variation in loudness profiles was expected between participants even in the listening condition. Recall A second comparison of imagined and listening loudness profiles was made using DTW to assess how much of each passage participants were able to imagine. Effect of musical expertise As not all participants were able to meet the inclusion criteria for both stimuli, expertise groups based on OMSI score tertiles were calculated separately for each stimulus to ensure that sample sizes would be similar between groups though not identical, since there were some ties in OMSI score.
Results Excluded Trials The proportion of trials excluded from the analysis was high due to the necessarily strict inclusion criteria i. Table 3 Excluded trials. Across all participants, including those for whom data were excluded, the mean proportions of the excerpts recalled were 0. Veridicality of Imagined Loudness Figure S2 shows the intensity profiles and grand average imagined and listening loudness profiles for each piece. Table 4 Correlations between measures of imagined loudness and covariates. Stimulus Image-intensity similarity Image-listening similarity Recall Listening-intensity similarity Blue Danube Image-intensity similarity — — — — Image-listening similarity 0.
See Table 2 for definitions and descriptions of measure functions. Image-listening similarity and recall ability measures have been subjected to a logarithmic transformation. Blue Danube Logarithmic transformations were applied to the image-listening similarity and recall measures to approximate normality.
Table 5 Group means and standard deviations for measures of imagined loudness and covariates. Habanera Logarithmic transformations were similarly applied to the image-listening similarity and recall measures to approximate normality. Discussion In the literature on mental imagery, more attention has been paid to imagery for parameters that can be intrinsic to individual sound events, such as pitch, than parameters that are dynamic  ,  , or meaningful because of how they change through time, such as melody or loudness .
Tapping Imagined Rhythms A high proportion of participants failed to meet the inclusion criteria for analysis, which were based on the ability to recall at least two-thirds of a stimulus and accurately tap out its rhythm under cued-imagery conditions. Measuring Musical Imagery Theories differ in how they conceptualise mental imagery  , . Conclusions In most previous research on imagined loudness, the precision of imagery for the loudness of individual notes has been the focus of investigation, with conflicting results  ,  , .
Supporting Information Figure S1 Relationships among measures of imagined and listening loudness. TIFF Click here for additional data file. Figure S2 Intensity and grand average imagined and listening loudness profiles. Figure S3 Recording intensity and sample novice and expert imagined loudness profiles. TIF Click here for additional data file. Appendix S1 Analyses conducted using dynamic time warping. DOCX Click here for additional data file. Appendix S2 Analyses conducted using time series modelling. Dean RT, Bailes F A rise-fall temporal asymmetry of intensity in composed and improvised electroacoustic music.
Geringer JM Continuous loudness judgements of dynamics in recorded music excerpts. Journal of Research in Music Education A central, analytic process. Is stimulus continuity necessary? Huron D The ramp archetype: A score-based study of musical dynamics in 14 piano composers. Psychology of Music Juslin P, Laukka P Communication of emotions in vocal expression and music performance: Different channels, same code? Palmer C Music Performance. Annu Rev Psychol Sloboda J, Lehmann A Tracking performance correlates of changes in perceived intensity of emotion during different interpretations of a Chopin piano prelude.
Madison G Properties of expressive variability patterns in music performances. Journal of New Music Research Ericsson K, Lehmann A Expert and exceptional performance: Evidence of maximal adaptation to task constraints. Williamon A, Valentine E The role of retrieval structures in memorizing music. Weber W, Brown S Musical imagery. Janata P, Paroo K Acuity of auditory images in pitch and time.
Halpern A Mental scanning in auditory imagery for songs. Pecenka N, Keller P Auditory pitch imagery and its relationship to musical synchronization. Ann N Y Acad Sci Psychology of Music 7: Pitt M, Crowder R The role of spectral and dynamic cues in imagery for musical timbre. Bailes F Timbre as an elusive component of imagery for music. Empir Musicol Rev 2: Repp B Effects of auditory feedback deprivation on expressive piano performance. Intons-Peterson M The role of loudness in auditory imagery. Individuals with musical experience reported concurrent sensations of visual and motor imagery as well as involuntary extemporizations of their INMI.
Motivators for positive and negative appraisals of INMI were identified such as nostalgia and entertainment, and repetitive cycling with loss of control, respectively. We discuss interpretations from auditory memory theory and develop hypotheses for future INMI empirical investigation. Skip to main content. An interview study of Involuntary Musical Imagery. Williamson and Sagar R. Vol 42, Issue 5, pp. Download Citation If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice.
Via Email All fields are required. Send me a copy Cancel. Request Permissions View permissions information for this article. See all articles by this author Search Google Scholar for this author. Article first published online: June 28, ; Issue published: Williamson , Sagar R. Abstract Full Text References Abstract. Keywords auditory imagery , earworms , Involuntary Musical Imagery , grounded theory , musical experience.
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Psychology of Music, 35 4 , — Translating the musical image: Case studies of expert musicians. Intersections of music, technology and society pp. The perpetual music track: The phenomenon of constant musical imagery. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13 6 , 43 — Earworms stuck song syndrome: Towards a natural history of intrusive thoughts.
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