August 2015 - News!


AIRS 6th Annual Meeting, held in Nashville Tennesee July 30 - August 1, was a resonding sucess. See the full program and proceedings here. Following the Annual Meeting, AIRS members made the following presentations at SMPC 2015, also in Nashville:

  • The Influence of music training on vocal melodic completions, Bing-Yi Pan, Annabel J. Cohen, UPEI, Charlottetown

    The top-down system of the implication realization (IR) theory (Narmour, 1990; 2014) suggests that music experience influences melody expectancy. Listener rating studies have provided evidence for this (Krumhansl et al., 1999; Krumhansl et al., 2000; Vos & Pasveer, 2002). However, few have tested the theory by studying spontaneous melody production. The present study used data acquired through the AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills (Cohen et al., 2009; Pan et al., 2012) to explore how western music training affects improvisational singing following a prior melodic context. Young adults (20 musicians; 20 nonmusicians) were presented with an 8-note melody and were asked to first repeat it and then continue singing and finish it. 34 participants (19 musicians) completed the task. The singing recordings were notated by two musicians together (including the first author). To start the improvisation, musicians tended to choose the dominant (G, 42.1%) and subdominant (E, 21.1%), while non-musicians tent to begin with tonic (C, 33.3%) and subdominant (E, 26.7%). All of the musicians (100%) ended the song at tonic (C), while less than half of non-musicians (46.7%) did so.  Furthermore, the range of the composition covered by musicians (M = 8.11 semitones, SD = 2.49) was significantly larger than the range of non-musicians (M = 5.33 semitones, SD = 2.69), F (1, 32) = 9.67, p < .005. The number of diatonic scale notes used by musician (M = 4.73, SD =1.04) exceeded that used by non-musicians (M = 3.53, SD =1.25), F (1, 32) = 9.38, p = .004. The study provides direct evidence that: (a) music training shapes melodic expectancy when improvising; (b) music training expands materials one can comfortably use in on-the-spot melody creation. The role of music training – whether cognitive and/or vocal motor flexibility and vocal range – remains to be investigated. 

  • Is playing a musical instrument better for you than singing? A review, Annabel J. Cohen, UPEI, Charlottetown

    Singing accurately, musically, and emotionally requires sensory, cognitive, motor and affective control. Yet the mental processes underlying performing on a musical instrument (rather than the human voice) more often attract the attention in both psychological work and the popular press. Does practice on the “flashy” instrument create that much more of a sensorycognitive-emotional workout than does practice on the hidden musical instrument of the human voice? Is  ractice and performance on a musical instrument qualitatively better for you than practice and performance in singing? Are choristers necessarily less happy than instrumentalists? The present paper directs attention to the following: (1) articles in the press that extol the benefits of music, referring only to examples of playing a musical instrument; could their statements apply equally to serious vocal music study? (2) programs such as El Sistema provide music training primarily on musical instruments; could these programs work equally well if focused on the human voice? (3) obviously for the same cost more students can be engaged in music through singing than through playing a musical instrument (4) comparisons of test performance of singers vs instrumentalists are rare in the music-psychological or cognitive literature and warrant more studies to address the gap in knowledge about the relative benefits of singing. If it is shown that the so-called benefits of instrumental music training are equal to the benefits of voice training, then public efforts to provide musical training should consider the relative cost of instrumental teachers and musical instruments versus the cost of choral leaders and no instruments. In a world where resources are insufficient to provide music training for everyone, decisions to fund instrumental as opposed to choral programs deserve social scientific justification. The relevant literature will be reviewed. (supported by SSHRC AIRS).

  • Singing and multi-cultural group cohesion, Arla Good, Frank Russo,  Ryerson University, Toronto

    Research in social experimental psychology has consistently shown that moving in synchrony with others can foster coordination and good will between individuals. Music provides a rich oscillatory framework to support synchronous movement, and may thus be a particularly powerful agent of group cohesion. In the current study we assess this hypothesis in a group of children with diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Children in three predetermined groups were assigned to one of three activity conditions: group singing, a group art project, or competitive games. Both the singing and art conditions involved collaboration. Following participation in these activities, children were randomly assigned to dyads and asked to play a children’s version of the prisoner’s dilemma game. Results showed that children who had engaged in group singing were more likely to choose cooperative strategies during the prisoner’s dilemma game than the children who had engaged in group art or competitive games. These findings have important implications for intergroup relations and diversity promotion programs employed in the classroom.

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops     view all upcoming

  • ICA 2016, the 22nd International Congress on Acoustics will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 5-9, 2016. The Congress venue will be the Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires (UCA).   LINK 



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