Implicit learning of Indian music by Westerners
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Studies by Bigand and Barrouillet (1996), Perruchet, Bigand, and Benoit-Gonin (1997), Bigand, Perruchet, and Boyer (1998),Tillmann, Bharucha, and Bigand (2000) show that listeners exposed to only a few minutes of stimuli organized according to inherent rules of an artificial grammar successfully distinguish between stimuli that obey and disobey the rules. The present study considers the extent to which subjects learn rules of a musical tradition with which they have had no contact. Although master musicians have differed in detail for centuries concerning the rules or conventions of particular North Indian (Hindustani) rags, within Bhatkande's (1966) monumental anthology the examples of rag Alhaiya Bilawal are sufficiently regular in their melodic progressions to provide a basis for inferring quite precise specifications of what happens, or tends to happen, in particular realizations, and these specifications also accord with Bhatkande's explicit prescriptions. Of importance to the present study are the following regularities: i) Relative to a tambura drone comprising C and G, each melody employs all and only the tones C D E F G A B-flat and/or B, i.e., 7-35 or 8-23 in Forte's numbering (1973) -- the second understood as a 'chromatic' version of the first (Rahn 1991); ii) Among all the melodies, each possible stepwise progression between two of these tones occurs, except between B-flat and B. The study tested the hypothesis that after 15 minutes of exposure to Alhaiya Bilawal subjects who had not previously encountered classical North Indian music would correctly distinguish between instances of the rag and examples that diverged.
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