Aural identification of harmonic intervals: An observational study at the Girona Music Conservatory (Catalonia, Spain)

Imma Ponsatí, Joaquim Miranda, Miquel Amador, Pere Godall
  • Psychology of Music, November 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0305735618809868

What is it about?

This study evaluated the design of a teaching method to improve aural identification of harmonic intervals (m2–P8). Three groups of first-year professional-grade music theory students aged 11–13 (N = 25) at the Girona Music Conservatory (Catalonia, Spain) were given 20 lessons. All groups were taught using the same method. Observational methodology was used, with teachers acting as participant observers who systematically registered their observations in field diaries and were then interviewed at the end of the experiment. Assessments confirmed that the proposal was generally effective, as the design allowed students to improve. However, the experiment highlighted the fact that difficulties lie mainly in the aural identification of the TT, m6, M6, m7 and M7 intervals. The relationship between this general difficulty and other, more specific patterns observed during this study suggests that the design of the teaching method requires more flexibility to be adaptable to the different nature of each interval and the way in which the intervals tend to be perceived and processed. Knowledge of the most difficult aspects of the teaching proposal that was tested may guide us in designing what, how and when to teach.

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