Unveiling The Mystery Of Harmony

Research project about memory for harmony (2016-2022) lead by professor Tuire Kuusi, main researcher PhD Ivan Jimenez.

Introduction

This research aims at clarifying the mechanisms by which personal factors such as musical training and aptitude and musical factors such as musical style, transposition, and melodic and rhythmic features affect the perception and memory for harmony.

Visual metaphors for two basic mechanisms of chord-tune recall
Visual metaphors for two basic mechanisms of chord-tune recall. Gary Andrew Clarke’s “Mona Lisa Remix” is used with permission of the artist.

About the research project

“Unveiling the mystery of harmony” is a postdoctoral research project of Dr. Ivan Jimenez (researcher) and Professor Tuire Kuusi (PI), with the collaboration of Professor Juha Ojala (co-researcher), Professor Matthew Schulkind (co-researcher), Professor Christopher Doll (co-researcher), Professor Christoph Reuter (co-researcher), and Isabella Czedik-Eysenberg (co-researcher).

The project is funded by the Kone foundation, and affiliated to the Sibelius Academy. The project lasts from 2016 to 2022.

Identifying a tune from its harmony (“chord-tune recall”), is a strong indicator that a listener has been able to internalize a lasting mental representation of a chord progression partially disassociated from its original melodic and rhythmic features. Listeners’ ability to identify tunes from their chord progressions seems to be related to the listeners’ musical experience. Our previous research suggests that for listeners without extensive experience in composing, improvising, transcribing, or analyzing music, it is very difficult to connect two pieces of music by chord progressions alone, i.e., without the extra cues of rhythm and melody. This raises an interesting question: Is it possible to implicitly internalize lasting mental representations of chord progressions that lack rhythmic and melodic information? Our research aims to clarify the extent to which conceptually-based strategies and perceptually-driven mechanisms, length of chord progression, transposition, and melodic and rhythmic cues contribute to chord-tune recall. Our innovative experimental methodology, chord-tune recall, offers a straightforward way to expand our understanding of how different types of listeners experience music.

Our project also investigates other phenomena related to the perception and memory of harmony. These include, the identification of songs from single chords, the emergence of feelings of remembering related to chord progressions, the ability to recognize that a familiar tune has been re-harmonized, and the relative salience of chord-type over voicing.

We are also planing the development of a web application that allows both musically trained and non trained users to explore chords and chord progressions in a way that prioritizes their own individual perception of harmony (as opposed to forcing into adopting an already existing way of conceptualizing chords).

Publications

Jimenez, I., Kuusi, T., & Ojala, J. Relative salience of chord-type and chord-voicing changes: A two-oddball paradigm. Psychology of Music. Accepted.

Jimenez, I., Kuusi, T., Czedik-Eysenberg, I., & Reuter, C. (2021). Identifying songs from their piano-driven opening chords. Musicae Scientiae. DOI: 10.1177/10298649211003631

Kuusi, T., Jimenez, I., & Schulkind, M. (2021). Revisiting the effect of listener and musical factors on the Identification of music from chord progressions. In J. Ojala and L. Suurpää (Eds.) Musical Performance in Context: A Festschrift in Celebration of Doctoral Education at the Sibelius Academy. DocMus Research Publications 17. Helsinki: Sibelius Academy.

Kuusi, T., Jimenez, I., & Schulkind, M. D. (2021). Identifying Beatles songs from their chord progressions: New evidence of the effect of specialized harmonic familiarity, melodic cues, and transposition on the identification of songs from chord progressions. In Proceedings of the Future Directions of Music Cognition International Conference.

Jimenez, I., Kuusi, T., & Doll, C. (2020). Common chord progressions and feelings of remembering. Music & Science, 3. DOI: 10.1177/2059204320916849.

Jimenez, I., & Kuusi, T. (2020). What helps jazz musicians name tunes from harmony? The effects of work with harmony on the ability to identify music from chord progressionsPsychology of Music, 48(2), 215-231. DOI: 10.1177/0305735618793005. Link for the final draft held in Helda

Jimenez, I., & Kuusi, T. (2018). Connecting chord progressions with specific pieces of musicPsychology of Music, 46(5), 716–733. DOI: 10.1177/0305735617721638. Link for the final draft held in Helda

Jimenez, I., & Kuusi, T. (2017). The Challenges of Aurally Connecting Structurally Similar but Superficially Dissimilar Musical Events: Important Considerations in Analytical Listening. In Proceedings of the Ninth European Music Analysis Conference. Link for the conference website

Jimenez, I., & Kuusi, T. (2016). Music Identification from Harmony. In Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition. Link for the conference website

Presentations

“The effect of melodic cues, transposition, and harmonic distinctiveness on the identification of music from chord progressions.” Tenth European Music Analysis Congress (EuroMAC-10), Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow, Russia, September 21–26, 2021.

“Two-oddball paradigm for investigating the relative salience of chord-type changes over voicing changes.” Sixteenth International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 16), Eleventh Triennial International Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM 11). Virtual conference, July 28–31, 2021.

“The effect of timbral and non-timbral cues on the recognition of songs from piano-driven opening chord.” Sixteenth International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 16), Eleventh Triennial International Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM 11). Virtual conference, July 28–31, 2021. Also presented at the Future Directions of Music Cognition International Conference (virtual), March 6–7, 2021.

“Identifying Beatles songs from their chord progressions: New evidence of the effect of specialized harmonic familiarity, melodic cues, and transposition on the identification of songs from chord progressions.” Sixteenth International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 16), Eleventh Triennial International Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM 11). Virtual conference, July 28–31, 2021. Also presented at the Future Directions of Music Cognition International Conference (virtual), March 6–7, 2021.

“The effect of vertical pitch structures, timbre, and duration on memory of chords.” Society for Music Theory Virtual Conference (SMT), Online conference, November 14, 2020. Link for conference website and abstracts. Also presented at Thirty-first Annual Conference of Music Theory Midwest (MTMW), Online conference, July 2, 2020. Link for conference website and abstracts. Also presented at the 10th European Music Analysis Congress (EuroMAC-10), Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow, September 21–26, 2021.

“The effect of vertical pitch structures, timbre, and duration on memory of chords.” Thirty-first Annual Conference of Music Theory Midwest (MTMW), Online conference, July 2, 2020. Link for conference website and abstracts

“Memory for harmony in popular music.” Biennial Meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC). New York University, NY, US, August 5–7, 2019. Link for conference website

“Memory for short chord progressions.” SotonMac, International Conference of the UK’s Society for Music Analysis (SMA). University of Southampton, Department of Music, United Kingdom, July 29–31, 2019. Link for conference website Link for pdf booklet of abstracts

“Memory for short chord progressions.” Thirtieth Annual Conference of Music Theory Midwest. College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, May 10–11, 2019. Link for conference website and abstracts

“The Influence of Veridical Knowledge on Familiarity with Chord Progressions.” Fifteenth International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 2018), Tenth Triennial International Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM 10). University of Graz, Austria, July 23–28, 2018. Link for conference website

“Associative Listening as a Creative Act in Composition, Improvisation, and Analysis.” Paper presented as a spoken presentation at the Fourth International Conference “Tracking the Creative Process in Music.”  (TCPM 2017) Huddersfield, United Kingdom, September 14–16, 2017. Link for conference website

“Jazz Musicians’ Tune Identification from Harmony.” Paper presented as a spoken presentation at the Conference of the European Society of Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM 2017). University of Ghent, Belgium, July 31, 2017. Link for conference website

“The Challenges of Aurally Connecting Structurally Similar but Superficially Dissimilar Musical Events: Important Considerations in Analytical Listening.“ Paper presented as a spoken presentation at the Ninth European Music Analysis Conference (EUROMAC 9). University of Strasbourg, France, June 28, 2017. Link for conference website Link for pdf of proceedings article

“Towards Better Understanding of How Academic Music Research Can Enrich Listeners’ Experiences.” Paper presented at the Twenty-first Annual Symposium for Music Scholars in Finland. University of Jyväskylä, Finland, April 19–21, 2017. Link for symposium website Link for pdf booklet of abstracts

“Music Identification from Harmony.” Paper presented at Fourteenth International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition ICMPC 14. San Francisco, CA, July 5, 2016. Link for conference website Link for pdf of all proceedings

“What Can Music Identification from Harmonic Reductions Tell Us About Chord Progressions?.” Paper presented at the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Music Theory Society of Mid-Atlantic (MTSMA), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, April 8, 2016. Link for conference website Link for pdf booklet of abstracts

Interested to be a participant in the study?

We are currently looking for both musicians and non-musicians for various experiments related chord progressions. If you are interested in participating in any of our experiments, please contact Ivan at ivan.jimenez.rodriguez(at)uniarts.fi

Thank you very much!

Contact information for the project

Researcher Dr. Ivan Jimenez
ivan.jimenez.rodriguez@uniarts.fi
See Ivan Jimenez’ website.

Principal Investigator Professor Tuire Kuusi
tuire.kuusi@uniarts.fi
See Tuire Kuusi’s website.

Co-researcher for the Chord Voicing project Juha Ojala
juha.ojala@uniarts.fi
See Juha Ojala’s website.

Co-researcher for the Beatles project Professor Matthew Schulkind
mdschulkind@amherst.edu
See Matthew Schulkind’s website.

Co-researcher for the project on memory for short chord progressions Professor Christopher Doll
cdoll@mgsa.rutgers.edu
See Christopher Doll’s website.

Co-researcher for the project on identifying songs from a single chord Professor Christoph Reuter
christoph.reuter@univie.ac.at
See Christoph Reuter’s website.

Co-researcher for the project on identifying songs from a single chord Isabella Czedik-Eysenberg
isabella.czedik-eysenberg@univie.ac.at
See Isabella Czedik-Eysenberg’s website.

Project name

Unveiling the Mystery of Harmony

Time

01/2016-12/2022

Funder

Kone Foundation

Contact

Researcher Dr. Ivan Jimenez
ivan.jimenez.rodriguez@uniarts.fi
ivansamples.com