Total and relative duration as cues to surface structure in music


  • Michael E. Lantz Queen's Univ, Kingston, Canada
  • Lola L. Cuddy Queen's Univ, Kingston, Canada


Anechoic chambers, Computer music, Headphones, Psychophysiology, Musical surface, Pitch structure, Surface cues


An experiment was conducted to gain a better understanding of perceived pitch structure in music. The experiment involved forty-eight listeners from an Introductory Psychology class, with two levels of musical training. Listeners were tested individually with the probe-tone technique using sequences from MIDI files, delivered through headphones in a sound-attenuated chamber. To test the idea that pitch structure could be perceived through cues at the musical surface, the sequences that were created did not conform to the conventional Western tonal context. The total duration of the shorter, more frequent tones were manipulated to determine if the cumulative durations of the shorter tones would overcome the perceptual advantage of the longer tones.

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How to Cite

Lantz ME, Cuddy LL. Total and relative duration as cues to surface structure in music. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 1998 Sep. 1 [cited 2024 Jul. 21];26(3):56-7. Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada