Units of Knowledge in Music Performance

Caroline Palmer, Carla van de Sande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


The units of knowledge that form cognitive plans for music performance were examined in production errors. In Experiment 1, pianists performed multivoice homophonic music (containing strong across-voice associations) and polyphonic music (containing strong within-voice associations). Pitch errors reflected more chordal (across-voice) units in homophonic performances and more single-note units in polyphonic performances. Error instructions were harmonically and diatonically related to their intended pitches more often than chance, which demonstrates retrieval-based influences on planning. In Experiment 2, pianists conceptualized one of several voices as melody. Both the melody and the voice controlled by outer right-hand fingers (a common location of melody) contained fewer errors, which implies that there are conceptual, retrieval-based, and articulatory influences on units of knowledge that contribute to planning music performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-470
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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