Perception of musical melody and rhythm as influenced by native language experience

Linjun Zhang, Songcheng Xie, Yu Li, Hua Shu, Yang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study used the Musical Ear Test [Wallentin, Nielsen, Friis-Olivarius, Vuust, and Vuust (2010). Learn. Indiv. Diff. 20, 188-196] to compare musical aptitude of native Japanese and Chinese speakers. Although the two groups had similar overall accuracy, they showed significant differences in subtest performance. Specifically, the Chinese speakers outperformed the Japanese counterparts on the melody subtest, but the reverse was observed on the rhythm subtest. Within-group comparisons revealed that Chinese speakers performed better on the melody subtest than the rhythm subtest, while Japanese speakers showed an opposite trend. These results indicate that native language pitch and durational patterns of the listener can have a profound effect on the perception of music melody and rhythm, respectively, reflecting language-to-music transfer of learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)EL385
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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