SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 13.1: McDermott, J. H. (2009). What can experiments reveal about the origins of music? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(3), 164-168.

Abstract: The origins of music have intrigued scholars for thousands of years. In this article the author discusses the role of experiments in discussions of these issues. He argues that potentially useful kinds of evidence are those that address the innateness and the specificity of different components of musical behavior. At present there is some evidence for innate influences on music, but little evidence for capacities that are clearly specific to music. Although future experiments could potentially alter this picture, there is currently little unambiguous support for the notion that music is an adaptation.

Journal Article 13.2: Nieminen, S., Istók, E., Brattico, E., & Tervaniemi, M. (2012). The development of the aesthetic experience of music: Preference, emotions, and beauty. Musicae Scientiae, 16, 372-391. doi:10.1177/1029864912450454

Abstract: From an early age, children are attracted to the aesthetics of music. Employing a cross-sectional design including school-aged children, the present exploratory study aimed to investigate the effects of age, gender, and music education on three important aspects of the aesthetic experience of music: musical preference, musical emotion recognition, and the use of the aesthetic categories for music. To this aim, we developed an experimental procedure suitable to quantify children’s musical preferences and their judgment of musical emotions and aesthetics. The musical material consisted of three short piano pieces: a piece in major mode, a piece in minor mode, and a free tonal piece. The responses of 78 children were analyzed, whereby the children were assigned to two age groups: 6–7-year-olds (n = 38) and 8–9-year-olds (n = 40). Children preferred the piece in major mode to the one in minor. Except for 6–7-year-olds without music education, children gave the highest happiness ratings for the major piece. Only 8–9-year-olds found the minor piece sadder than the major piece, and the major piece more beautiful than the piece in minor. The ratings of the free tonal piece were mostly indifferent and probably reflect children’s difficulty in judging music that does not yet belong to their short musical history. Taken together, the current data imply that school-aged children are able to make emotional and aesthetic judgments about unfamiliar musical pieces.

Journal Article 13.3: Peretz, I. (2008). Musical disorders: From behavior to genes. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(5), 329-333.

Abstract: Research over the last decade has provided compelling evidence that the ability to engage with music is a fundamental human trait, yet the biological basis of music remains largely unknown. Recent findings indicate that a small number of individuals have severe musical problems that have neurogenetic underpinnings. Such deficiencies are termed congenital amusia, an umbrella term for lifelong musical disabilities that cannot be attributed to mental retardation, deafness, lack of exposure to music, or brain damage after birth. Congenital amusia constitutes a natural experiment, giving us a rare chance to examine the biological basis of music by tracing causal links among genes, environment, brain, and behavior.