Effects of song familiarity, singing training and recent song exposure on the singing of melodies
Findings of a singing experiment are presented in which trained and untrained singers sang melodies of familiar and less familiar Beatles songs from memory and after listening to the original song on CD. Results showed that adopting the correct pitch of a melody was done better by trained singers, and only after listening to the song. Contours of melodies were equally well reproduced by both trained and untrained singers. In contrast, the intervals of a melody were sung more accurately by trained singers than by untrained singers. These findings demonstrate the dominance of contour for remembering melodies and the poorer interval encoding of melodies or the lack of essential singing skills by untrained singers. When singing from memory, almost two-third of the singing came reasonably close to the actual tempo on the CD. This improved to more than 70% after listening to the song on CD. In general, the singing of less familiar melodies improved after song listening. Implications for ‘query by humming’ applications are discussed.