Repetition enhances the musicality of randomly generated tone sequences

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Rhimmon Simchy-Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


THIS STUDY INVESTIGATED THE ROLE OF REPETITION on listener response. It tested the hypothesis that repetition, in the form of looping during an exposure phase, would make random sequences of tones sound more musical when rated later during a test phase. In Experiment 1, participants without special music training rated the musicality of random sequences of tones on a Likert-like scale from 1 to 7. Experiment 2 used the highest and lowest rated sequences as stimuli. In an initial exposure phase, participants heard half these sequences presented six times in a loop, and half of them presented only once. In a subsequent test phase, they rated the musicality of each sequence. Sequences that had been repeated were rated as more musical, regardless of whether they had received a high or low musicality rating in Experiment 1, but the effect size was small. These results, although limited in some respects, support a large body of literature pointing to the importance of repetition in aesthetic experiences of music.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


  • Aesthetic response
  • Looping
  • Meter
  • Musicality
  • Repetition


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