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Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(12), 2514; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8122514

The Effect of Isomorphic Pitch Layouts on the Transfer of Musical Learning

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
This paper reports the results of a study that was preregistered on OSF at https://osf.io/xt3n8/register/565fb3678c5e4a66b5582f67.
Current address: Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 November 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 30 November 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
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Abstract

The physical arrangement of pitches in most traditional musical instruments—including the piano and guitar—is non-isomorphic, which means that a given spatial relationship between two keys, buttons, or fretted strings can produce differing musical pitch intervals. Recently, a number of new musical interfaces have been developed with isomorphic pitch layouts where these relationships are consistent. Since the nineteenth century, it has been widely considered that isomorphic pitch layouts facilitate the learnability and playability of instruments, particularly when a piece is transposed into a different key; however, prior to this paper, this has not been experimentally tested. To address this, we investigated four different pitch layouts to examine whether isomorphism facilitates retention and transfer of musical learning within and across keys. Both non-musicians and musicians were tested on two training tasks: two immediate retention tasks and a transfer task. Each participant played every task on two distinct layouts—one being an isomorphic layout (Wicki or Bosanquet), the other being a minimally adjusted non-isomorphic version. For musicians, isomorphism was found to facilitate transfer of learning to a novel task; for non-musicians, the results were mixed. This study provides insight into features that are important to music instrument design. View Full-Text
Keywords: pitch layouts; isomorphic layouts; new musical instruments; motor learning; perception and action; sound and music computing pitch layouts; isomorphic layouts; new musical instruments; motor learning; perception and action; sound and music computing
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Stanford, S.; Milne, A.J.; MacRitchie, J. The Effect of Isomorphic Pitch Layouts on the Transfer of Musical Learning . Appl. Sci. 2018, 8, 2514.

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