Non score-dependency: theory and assessment

Robert Harris, Bauke de Jong, Peter van Kranenburg

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Untrained listeners demonstrate implicit knowledge of syntactic patterns
and principles. Untrained generative music ability, for example singing,
humming, and whistling, is a largely unconscious or intuitive application
of these patterns and principles. From the viewpoint of embodied cognition,
listening to music should evoke an internal representation or motor
image which, together with the perception of organized music, should
form the basis of musical cognition. Indeed, that is what listeners demonstrate
when they sing, hum, or whistle familiar and unfamiliar tunes or
when they vocally or orally improvise continuations to interrupted
phrases. Research on vocal improvisation using continuations sung to an
interrupted musical phrase, has shown that one’s cultural background
influences the music generated. That should be the case for instrumentalists
as well: when they play familiar or unfamiliar tunes by ear in different
keys (transposition) or when they improvise variations,
accompaniments, or continuations to interrupted phrases, the music they
generate should reflect the same cognitive structures as their oral improvisations.
This study is attempting to validate a test of (non) scoredependency
that will enable assessment of the music student’s implicit
knowledge of these structures during performance on the principal instrument.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2011
Event3rd International Symposium on Performance Science (ISPS) 2011: Models of Performance - Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 24 Aug 201127 Aug 2011
Conference number: 3rd


Conference3rd International Symposium on Performance Science (ISPS) 2011
Abbreviated titleISPS 2011
Internet address


  • non score-dependency
  • playing by ear
  • music syntax


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