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Previous research has indicated that jazz musicians outperformed classical musicians on one of six working memory span tasks. In that study, participants were asked to recall the last pitch from a series of triads by playing them serially on a piano and in comparison, by notating them on a staff. When participants used the piano, they were better able to recall the last pitches, but without the assistance of the piano, neither jazz nor classical musicians performed well. Performance was unexpectedly low on this dictation task, which leads us to explore what series of tasks may provide easy, medium, and difficult levels of item difficulty, and to investigate the relationships between aural interval identification and melodic dictation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the ability of student musicians to correctly identify short pitch spans after a brief tonicization (hearing tonic-dominant diad played twice). College musicians with classical or jazz backgrounds completed an interval identification test and a series of new melodic dictation tasks, indicating a moderate correlation between interval identification and melodic dictation (r = .538). Difficulty indices ranged from .22 to 1.00 across interval items and from .33 to .89 across melodic dictation items. These reflect a battery of items ranging from “very easy” to “very difficult” (Allen & Yen, 2001). Implications of these results and suggestions for future research will be discussed.
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