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'You Hum It, I'll Play It!' The role of memory in playing the piano by ear.

Sapiro, Diane Jacqueline (2012) 'You Hum It, I'll Play It!' The role of memory in playing the piano by ear. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate playing by ear amongst pianists, and determine the cognitive-psychological skills underlying playing-by-ear ability. Whilst earlier studies have focussed on melodic playing-by-ear abilities, mainly amongst children who play wind and string instruments, no studies hitherto have considered two-handed, harmonised playing by ear in adult pianists, or considered the cognitive-psychological factors that facilitate it. Adopting a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, the thesis contains four individual studies, the first of which is a survey that elicits the views, opinions and beliefs of over 150 trained, adult pianists on playing by ear. Thematic analysis allows a profile of both by-ear and non-by-ear pianists to be drawn, and raises questions regarding the spontaneous nature of playing the piano by ear. The second study is an empirical investigation that uses an author-designed assessment tool to measure the abilities of 29 trained, adult pianists to realise familiar, orchestral music for by-ear piano performance. A more qualitative observation study follows that examines the strategies and practical techniques these pianists employ whilst preparing their by-ear realisations. A number of musical and motor memory skills are identified that have the potential to facilitate playing-by-ear ability, and a theoretical model of the cognitive-psychological process of playing by ear is proposed. During the final study, participants’ levels of musical and motor memory are assessed, using a suite of author-designed measures, and the results compared with their playing-by-ear abilities to determine the individual and collective influence of these memory skills on playing by ear. Results suggest that a quantitative difference exists between spontaneous, harmonised by-ear realisations and those that are worked out through trial and error; and that recall memory has a strong influence on two-handed, harmonised playing-by-ear ability. The validity of the proposed cognitive-psychological model is discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Playing piano by ear
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Music (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.808641
Depositing User: Dr Diane Jacqueline Sapiro
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2020 07:16
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16715

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