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Durham e-Theses
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Developing concepts of musical style

Marshall, Nigel Andrew (2001) Developing concepts of musical style. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis explores the development of sensitivity to musical styles in children aged between 3 and 16 years old. The thesis is divided into four parts. The first part of the thesis explores the historical background of the developmental and the social psychology of music and reviews some pertinent previous literature. This section places the later studies in a theoretical context. The second part presents a review of the four previous studies, which have been carried out into style sensitivity, namely, Gardner (1973), Castell (1983), Tafuri et al. (1994) and Hargreaves and North (1999). This section of the thesis also includes a review of a number of methodological issues and gives a full description of the design of the test methodology. Six experiments are carried out and reported in the thesis. Experiment one explores the effect of varying the lesson context in which the style sensitivity test is presented to the participants, whilst experiment two explores the effect of varying the test presenter on participants' test performance. The third experiment is a comparative study between participants in three different regions, one region within the UK and two regions within the USA. The participants in each of these three regions all experienced a number of variations in their music education programme, the status accorded to music within that music education programme and also considerable variation in participants' commercial musical diet. The experiment explores whether or not these variations affect the development of sensitivity to musical styles. Part three of the thesis manipulates two further variables firstly, by varying the introduction to the style sensitivity and secondly, by manipulating the musical material used in the test. Experiment four presents two variations to the test introduction. In the first condition the introduction is changed through the offer of a reward and in the second condition, the introduction is changed in order to make the experiment competitive. The fifth experiment attempts to manipulate the musical material used in the style sensitivity test by increasing the level of stylistic divergence between the musical extracts. This is achieved in two ways. Firstly, a broad grained method of measuring various artefactual elements within the extracts is devised and incorporated into the selection of the musical test material. Secondly, the stylistic divergence between the musical extracts in increased by extending the chronological period between the musical eras used in the musical extracts. Part four presents the findings of an exploratory study. Experiment six attempted to create a new test methodology which was appropriate for use on younger children. The new methodology was successfully piloted in order to further explore style sensitivity in participants aged between 3 and 5 years of age. In the last section, a review of the six experiments is given and this is accompanied by a number of implications for further research. Finally, a model of the development of style sensitivity is presented. This model proposes that sensitivity to musical style is not a single unitary skill, the development of which is linear, and therefore any measurement of musical style sensitivity should be seen as a multidimensional description of a combination of abilities, skills and knowledge. The model proposes that acquiring the ability to be sensitive to musical styles can best be seen as the progression from stylistic discrimination to stylistic competence.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2001
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Jun 2012 15:24

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