- Predicting Variation of Folk Songs: A Corpus Analysis Study on the Memorability of Melodies
- Frontiers in Psychology
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- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
Interfacultary Research Institutes
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
We present a hypothesis-driven study on the variation of melody phrases in a collection of Dutch folk songs. We investigate the variation of phrases within the folk songs through a pattern matching method which detects occurrences of these phrases within folk song variants, and ask the question: do the phrases which show less variation have different properties than those which do? We hypothesize that theories on melody recall may predict variation, and as such, investigate phrase length, the position and number of repetitions of a given phrase in the melody in which it occurs, as well as expectancy and motif repetivity. We show that all of these predictors account for the observed variation to a moderate degree, and that, as hypothesized, those phrases vary less which are rather short, contain highly expected melodic material, occur relatively early in the melody, and contain small pitch intervals. A large portion of the variance is left unexplained by the current model, however, which leads us to a discussion of future approaches to study memorability of melodies.
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