Atelier du 17 novembre 1997
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"I Can't Get That Song Out of My Head: Is memory for music relative or absolute?"

présenté par Daniel Levitin.

Lundi 17 novembre à 14 h 00
Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale,
28 rue Serpente, 75006 Paris.

Daniel Levitin is Lecturer in the Departments of Psychology, Music, and Computer Science at Stanford University, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and a Member of the Research Staff at Interval Research Corporation, Palo Alto, California.

In 1890, Christian von Ehrenfels noted that a melody maintains its identity despite transpositions in pitch space. This observation about the dual nature of melody - that it exists both in relative pitch and absolute pitch terms - launched the Gestalt Psychology movement and the well-known search for a definition of "objectness." Modern psychologists have struggled with the distinction between "absolute" and "relative" perception with respect to memory. Whereas most animals appear to encode auditory experiences in absolute terms, some animals encode auditory information in "relative" or "abstract" terms. There is an emerging body of recent evidence that humans encode both absolute and relative auditory information. I will review recent evidence that musical memory encodes both the details of specific experience, as well as abstract generalizations of those experiences. In a series of studies non-musicians tend to remember the absolute pitches and the absolute tempo of familiar songs, suggesting that they possess something akin to "absolute pitch" and "absolute tempo" even without formal music training.