The effect of piano accompaniment type and harmonic context on the tuning performance of college-level choral musicians
This study was designed to evaluate the effect of piano accompaniment style on the intonation performance of college-level choral musicians. It was hypothesized that using a piano accompaniment comprised solely of referential tones (RT), as opposed to having all voice parts doubled by the piano (PD), would encourage more desirable intonation performance. Participants (N = 34) sang a researcher-composed melody harmonized with traditional Western functional harmony under both accompaniment conditions. Accompaniment type was not found to have a significant effect on the tuning performance of target intervals, but harmonic context did significantly affect the singers' intonation. Most notably, intonation of major 3rds in the I and IV chords closely approximated just intonation, regardless of accompaniment type. In the context of the V chord, performances more closely approximated the high Pythagorean 3rd, which was attributed to a tendency to heighten the leading tone. When comparing intonation performance to the just intonation, equal temperament, and Pythagorean tuning systems, results indicated that performances did not conform perfectly to any one tuning system, supporting the conclusion that the singers' intonation performance was dependent on harmonic context.
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