Dissertation Index

Author: Brown, Jenine L.

Title: Cognitive Models of Interval Perception in Twelve-Tone Music: Hearing Webern\'s Concerto, Op. 24, and Other Works

Institution: University of Rochester-Eastman School of Music

Begun: November 2011

Completed: April 2014


This dissertation studies listener expectations when hearing novel melodies composed with a specific type of twelve-tone row, called a derived row. The dissertation begins with a review of the experimental studies that explore listeners’ perceptions of non-tonal music. The remainder of the dissertation discusses the results of four experiments that address listener expectation when hearing derived rows. Experiment 1 uses what I call the “Twelve-Tone Statistical Learning Paradigm” (a familiarization phase consisting of a twelve-tone row in all of its 48 forms followed by test items) to investigate whether listeners have the ability to learn adjacent interval patterns. Results from Experiment 1 suggest that listeners do learn interval patterns in music using strategies similar to the way they extract syllable patterns in language acquisition. Experiments 2 and 3 employ a “Probe-Interval” and “Probe-Trichord” technique similar to Carol Krumhansl’s “Probe-Tone” paradigm. This method is used in order to learn more about listener expectation after hearing a derived row melody. Two new probabilistic models, which capture the frequency with which each interval or trichord occurs in a melody, are then compared with listener responses from Experiments 2 and 3 to determine whether they can be considered good models of listener expectation. The final section of the dissertation addresses listener perceptions of Anton Webern’s Op. 24, a work that uses the trichordally-derived row, and concludes with an analysis and a perceptual experiment on how listeners hear the piece. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the pedagogical implications of the experimental findings.

Keywords: Intervals, derived row, perception, statistical learning, Webern, probe-tone, music cognition, non-tonal music


Chapter 1. Introduction.
1.1 Statement of goals.
1.2 The derived row in the music of Anton Webern and Milton Babbitt.
1.3 Previous cognitive research on non-tonal music perception.
1.4 The elephant in the room: Addressing the many critiques of cognitive research on non-tonal music.

Chapter 2. The twelve-tone statistical learning paradigm.
2.1 Previous interval-based approaches to non-tonal music.
2.2 Previous cognitive research on musical language learning: Statistical language studies.
2.3 Definition of the twelve-tone statistical learning paradigm.
2.4 Experiment 1: Tests of the twelve-tone statistical learning paradigm.
2.5 Discussion of Experiment 1.

Chapter 3. Testing cognitive models of derived rows using the probe-tone method.
3.1 Probabilistic models: The Interval Profile and the Trichord Profile.
3.2 Previous cognitive research on musical language learning: The probe-tone paradigm.
3.3 Experiment 2: The probe-interval paradigm and the Interval Profile.
3.4 Experiment 3: The probe-trichord paradigm and the Trichord Profile.
3.5 Discussion of Experiments 2 and 3.

Chapter 4. Webern’s Concerto, Op. 24: History, perception, and analysis.
4.1 Webern’s Op. 24: History.
4.2 Experiment 4: Hearing Webern’s Op. 24/iii.
4.3 Introducing a new analytical method: Frozen intervals expressed as +nets and —nets.
4.4 Previous analyses of Webern’s Op. 24 and why some make cognitive sense.
4.5 Analysis of Webern’s Op. 24/iii: Frozen intervals as a compositional determinant.
4.6 Extending the +/- net model to other works.

Chapter 5. Future areas for research.
5.1 Summary of experimental findings and ideas for future research.
5.2 Pedagogical implications of findings.
5.3 Who cares if you listen?


Appendix 1. The score of Familiarization Phase A, heard in Experiments 1a, 2a, and 3a.
Appendix 2. The score of Familiarization Phase B, heard in Experiments 1b, 2b, and 3b.
Appendix 3. Analysis of the third movement of Webern’s “Konzert für 9 Instrumente Op. 24” © Copyright 1948 by Universal Edition A.G., Wien/UE 34118.
Appendix 4. An in-class experiment on hearing Webern’s Op. 24/iii.
Appendix 5. An assignment on hearing Babbitt’s song titled “Amarilli.”
Appendix 6. An assignment on hearing Schoenberg’s “Nacht,” Op. 21, No. 8.
Appendix 7. An assignment on hearing Dallapiccola’s Goethe-Lieder, No. 2.


Jenine.L.Brown at gmail dot com

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