J. (1988). Memory for frequency of hearing popular songs. American Journal of Psychology, 101, 3149.
“Remember that song we heard the other day? What was it called? I wish I could remember.” If this has ever happened to you please listen carefully to what I have to say. The following journal article looks into the question; does frequency correlatewith familiarity for the remembrance of songs. The hypothesis was, specifically; people with a high knowledge of certain stimulus area should be able to identify frequency patterns more often than those who had little knowledge of the area. The findings could be used to determine whether or not people high knowledge of that certain stimulus area should be able to recognize the music patterns and process it as meaningful data more than people with low knowledge of that certain area.
The music chosen for the experiment was “wellknown” songs, based on music magazine album charts, and unfamiliar songs, chosen for their similar rhythm, instrumentation, and style.The music was recorded onto two tapes made up of 10 second excerpts and separated into “wellknown” and unfamiliar.
After trying to identify the artist and title on the tapes, the tapes were replaced by one tape with 52, 10 second excerpts. There were 16 different excerpts repeated one, two, three or four times in a mixed order. For a total of 40 excerpts. The restconsisted of filler songs that were not heard before, but considered familiar. Analyses were carried out using the average frequency estimates for excerpts heard once through four times, the zeropresented items were analyzed separately.
The findings were oddly opposite of what one might expect. THe frequency estimates for unfamiliar songs were higher than those of familiar songs. Although, the average estimated frequency increased as true frequency increased. The correlation between estimated and actual frequency was greater overall for subjects in the familiar song group, average being .68. The group who listened to unfamiliar songs performed lower, but not enough to rely on, average here being .58.
The experiment did succeed in demonstrating that persons judging unfamiliar songs were less able to identify correctly exact frequency of presentation than were persons judging familiar songs. They did find that those who subjected to the unfamiliar songs did falsely overestimate the frequency a song was heard. Another factor in the accuracy of the subjects was there prior knowledge of music. The researchers surmised that ability to remember event frequency is likely to be related to degree of knowledge of the toberemembered material when information other than that already obtained is available to aid repeated discrimination.
The premiss of the experiment, that frequency and reucuring judgement tests, could be applied to other fields. I base this statement on a theory I have about music and learning ability. I believe that if we would put information into a musical form witha chorus and other lyrics, for example auditory theory, and have it explain what it does and doesn’t state to be true. My theory is based on the fact that students, myself included, are able to memorize music lyrics and even the instrument solos after about seven playings and be able to recall the song completely at any time and need only hear it once or twice again to remember it again after a hiatus.