Similarity relations in listening to music: How do they come into play?
In this essay, similarity relations in the perception of music are studied on the basis of two different standpoints. The first is said to be external and studies comparisons between distinct and autonomous musical entities, i.e. different works or different interpretations. The second is internal and looks at similarity relations, which the listener identifies in the same work or part of a work, and in the same interpretation. This last procedure is developed in different directions. We show the importance of the similarity factor: (i) in the actual composition process as the composer seeks unity and coherence in his or her piece; (ii)in folk music; (iii)as an essential element for the listener who strives to understand the piece as he listens to it in real time. This last point is of fundamental importance for the study of cognition in general i.e. the implicit or explicit role of similarity in perception processes. Concrete examples of the main theoretical points described here can be identified in the course of the different phases of the cue extraction model that I developed recently, i.e. segmentation, categorization, schematization, imprint formation (Deliège, 1989, 1991). The SIMILARITY/DIFFERENCE axis is a central element in the structure of the model. The empirical approaches used in experimenting with the different phases of the model are analyzed in this two-fold perspective. From the very beginning, this was the aim of a series of procedures that aimed at showing the implicit or explicit aspects of the processes that musician and non-musician participants use during the experimental listening process. An overall view of the results obtained confirms that the assumptions were correct. ...