The Application of Musical Tests to the Study of Individual Reactions to Music: Studies in the Psychology of Musical Appreciation with Reference to the Formation of Musical Tests, Individual Reactions (Mainly Those of Children) and Psycho-Physical Measurements

Meiklejohn, John (1940) The Application of Musical Tests to the Study of Individual Reactions to Music: Studies in the Psychology of Musical Appreciation with Reference to the Formation of Musical Tests, Individual Reactions (Mainly Those of Children) and Psycho-Physical Measurements. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Certain tests, of intensity, pitch, time, rhythmic and simple melodic discrimination, were applied to young school children. The results showed that this was quite practicable and the agreement of the results with the estimates of ability at later ages was marked. The age level of the subjects (5 to 6 years of age) is about the lowest at which attempts at systematic testing may be made, so that the results (and the structure of the tests) are of interest psychologically in providing, at this level, a picture of some components of mental functions concerned with music - i.e., they provide a practical datum-line for the consideration of development. Intensity tests. Equal intensities caused more difficulty than unequal. Pitch tests. Downward leaps were rather more easily perceived than upward leaps. Equal pitches caused more difficulty to the older children than to the younger. (This may be due to "mental sets' or to a reduction in spontaneity of response in the older pupils as compared with the younger.) Test items using leaps became easier to the subjects as the size of the leap decreased; but this rule is not always true. Tests using repeated notes presented an order of difficulty depending on the pitch of the notes, an order resembling that for the difficulty of leaps. A leap of a fifth upwards presents more difficulty than the leap of a fifth downwards. Time tests (tests of duration perception). Test items using equal durations appeared to be easier than tests using unequal durations. The ability to estimate duration seemed generally to be rudimentary at the age levels considered. Rhythm tests. The older children showed a marked superiority over the younger children in tests using different patterns but the reverse was true for tests using identical patterns. The ability to discriminate rhythmic patterns is probably complex at the age levels of the subjects, depending no doubt on several factors such as duration comparison, symmetry comparison, Gestalt perception, attitudes. Tests using simple melodic structures. These tests showed that very poor ability in melodic discrimination is manifested by the subjects. On the whole the abilities shown by the subjects are humble. Some interesting results on pitch movement agree with the hypothesis of certain musicians about the historical development of melodic sensitivity or discrimination. The tests of intensity, pitch and rhythm were scored and the tests so formed had high reliability. The rhythm test showed a significant increase of mean score with age. It was found that the intensity and pitch tests showed a marked inter-correlation. This was not entirely accounted for by partial correlation with mental age. When the latter was partialled out, the resulting value of the intercorrelation coefficient was substantial showing the presence of a group factor other than 'g'. The inter-correlations of the rhythm test with each of the other two tests were small. Individual cases were considered by examining pooled sigma scores, profiles, and teachers' reports. A high relation was found to exist between the test results and the teachers' estimates compiled three years later. The tests appear therefore to have prognostic value. When the tests were extended to include children of ages 7 and 8, increases in mean score as age increased were found for the tests of intensity and rhythm discrimination. Less uniform increases were found for the other tests. A 'naming' form of the test was also applied to these older children, (i.e., the names 'loud' or soft' were sought for the terminal notes of the intensity tests, 'high' or 'low' for the pitch tests, and 'long' or 'short' for the duration tests). Naming in the pitch test was a more difficult task than the discrimination of 'same' or different' in the earlier form of the test. Naming in the intensity test, on the other hand, was easier than the performance of the earlier form of the test, and this result was clearly significant. Naming in the duration test appeared to make little difference, hut the results suggest that the organisation of a time-sense for discriminating differences in short durations becomes noticeably efficient at approximately the age level of 8 years - that is, noticeably compared with younger children.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Clinical psychology, Experimental psychology, Music
Date of Award: 1940
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1940-80214
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2020 10:19
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2020 10:19

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