Studying musical imagery: Context and intentionality

Freya Bailes

    Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Paper


    The phenomenon of a conscious 'inner hearing' of music, when this music is not actually present, is known as musi- cal imagery. Of interest to music cognition are when, where, why, what and how particular music is imaged. Given the methodological difficulties of imagery research, these questions have only just begun to be addressed. The research to date has begun to suggest fruitful areas to ex- plore and useful methods to achieve this. This paper re- views converging evidence of musical imagery experience from a sampling study, interviews, and laboratory experi- ments. Relevant findings from a study that sampled the everyday occurrence of having a 'tune on the brain' are presented (Bailes, in press) as an introduction to some of the prob- able factors linked to the occurrence of an involuntary mu- sical image. Analyses highlight the influence of recent ex- posure to particular music on what is subsequently imaged. Following this, an experimental study is described which measured the point of recognition (POR) of 120 melodies by 32 participants, with the goal of predicting POR as a function of different subjective measures of familiarity with the stimuli, and melodic distinctiveness. Results point to the complementary roles of perceptual exposure and memory when participants intentionally generate a mental image of music. Although musical imagery is an intangible phe- nomenon, this paper argues that by examining converging evidence it is possible to discern commonalities worthy of further study. This overview also underlines the changing nature of imagery experience dependent on the contextual factors of the intention to image music and musical task.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    Event9th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition - , Italy
    Duration: 22 Aug 200626 Aug 2006


    Conference9th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition


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