The Effect of Music Harmonics and Level of Expertise on Aesthetic Judgment of Music: An ERP Study
Authors: Marta Jaśkiewicz, Piotr Francuz, Emilia Zabielska-Mendyk
Abstract: The aim of our study was to investigate the influence of harmonic violation on aesthetic judgment of music in music experts and naives. Two groups took part in experiment: music experts (14 subjects, 8 female) and naives (13 subjects, 7 female). Music experts were graduates and undergraduates of music school, played musical instruments or educated in the field of singing from an average of 9.79 years. The group of naive did not have any special musical education besides normal school education. Participants were asked to listen the stimuli and judge whether each of them sounds beautiful (when the beauty judgment task was required) or correct (when the correctness judgment task was required). We used excerpts of five Bach’s chorales as a stimuli. Each of the excerpt was modified in order to obtain three versions of one excerpt differing only in one chord. This chord (‘target’) sounded: congruous, ambiguous or incongruous to harmonic context of the piece. Several differences in event-related potential (ERP) parameters were observed in aesthetic processing of music. The findings of our study showed that an affective aspect of music processing is reflected by LPP – Late Positive Potential. This effect differ in respect of degree of harmonic violation indicating that the incongruous chords enhanced the higher amplitudes. What is more, there was significant difference between two judgments (aesthetic or correctness) showing that the LPP is sensitive on task manipulation. Higher amplitudes for beauty judgment task than for correctness judgment task indicted that aesthetic evaluation is perceived as an affective task. However, our study did not confirm the influence of music expertise on affective aspect of music aesthetic processing. All our results are discussed in the context of previous studies.
Keywords: music aesthetic, music expertise, ERP, harmonic violation, late positive potential
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