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Generative Processes in MusicThe Psychology of Performance, Improvisation, and Composition$
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John Sloboda

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198508465

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198508465.001.0001

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Tonal structure and children’s early learning of music

Tonal structure and children’s early learning of music

(p.113) 6 Tonal structure and children’s early learning of music
Generative Processes in Music

W. Jay Dowling

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the strong links between perception and production in the development of musical competence in young children. It reviews the literature on developmental aspects of song production and reports two new empirical studies. The first shows that children as young as three years old can reliably discriminate tonal from atonal melodies so long as their song performance is relatively advanced. The second study explores the structure of nursery songs as opposed to folk songs and art songs. The analysis shows that nursery rhymes very rarely depart from strict diatonicity, and this chapter argues that such songs are optimal for children extracting and internalizing rules of tonality. The chapter notes that children's song has elements of reproduction and improvisation inextricably intertwined.

Keywords:   children's music, tonal structure, music learning, atonal melody, art songs, adult encoding, nursery rhymes

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