Musical imagery : hearing and imagining music
Musical imagery is defined as the conscious 'inner hearing' of a mental representation of music. In spite of the apparent importance of imagery for musical activity, there is a dearth of empirical knowledge on the subject, due in part to its essentially private and internal nature. Psychological methods of examining the phenomenon are necessarily restricted to indirect research techniques. This thesis explores the intuition that musical imagery is central to musical thought, through an exploration of its occurrence and its character in a variety of musical activities. Three categories of musical imagery are described. First, musical imagery can occur unintentionally - the phenomenon often called 'tune on the brain'. Second, musical imagery may be an involuntary consequence of musical activity. Finally, imagery may be intentional, as in the ‘silent' analysis of musical score. The studies reported progress from unintentional to intentional imagery, combining a variety of methods in increasingly specialised musical contexts to investigate the relationship between imagery and perception. The subject is approached through theoretical discussion, a sampling study, experiments, fieldwork, and interviews with expert musicians. It is argued that musical imagery and perception are separable but mutually dependent cognitive phenomena. The results highlight a shifting relationship between perception and imagery depending upon the contextual factors of image intentionality and musical task. Evidence is provided for the prevalence of 'tune on the brain' episodes in everyday life. The veridicality of imagery for different musical dimensions is also explored, with the experiment finding that tirnbre is a less stable component of musical imagery than timing and pitch. Musical imagery is described as situated between the subconscious influence of mental representations during the pure perception of music, and the rare occurrence of eidetic imagery.