University of California, Berkeley
Department of Music

Music 220: Sample Examination Questions

Study questions have been divided into the following topics:

Answers to all of the questions are made available only to registered students.


  1. * Identify three general classes of behavior that can be observed by psychologists. Give examples of each.
  2. In experimental psychology, the statistical value p is very important. What is the importance of this statistic?
  3. * Identify two problems associated with extrospection.
  4. Describe the concept of `categorical perception'.
  5. Give two contrasting examples of categorical perception in music.
  6. * Sigmund Freud viewed artistic creativity as a form of sublimation. Explain this concept.
  7. * What does catharsis mean?


  1. * Label the parts of the outer ear as indicated.
  2. * Label the parts of the middle ear as indicated.
  3. * Label the parts of the inner ear as indicated.
  4. * What is the difference between anatomy and physiology?
  5. * What is the purpose of the eustachian tube?
  6. What is a `super-pinna?'
  7. What did Edgar Shaw discover about pinnas?
  8. * A violin can sound quite different to the violinist playing it than to another listener. What is the major reason for this difference?
  9. * Some listeners have the ability to voluntarily activate the auditory reflex. About what proportion of the population have this ability?
  10. * What human generated sound is the ear most sensitive to?
  11. * A human scream generates its greatest energy in what frequency range?
  12. What does Ohm's Acoustical Law state?
  13. * Briefly outline the Place Theory of Hearing.
  14. * What is a tonotopic mapping?
  15. * What part of the basilar membrane shows the greatest activity for low frequency inputs?
  16. * Why does a tone tend to mask tones higher in frequency more than tones lower in frequency?


  1. What are efferent nerves and what is their role in the auditory system?
  2. What is the microphone effect?
  3. What is meant by "absolute refractory period?"
  4. What is the "volley theory"?
  5. * What is meant by "characteristic frequency?"


  1. * What is so special about a sine wave?
  2. * What is the unit of frequency?
  3. * What is a complex tone?
  4. * What is the difference between periodic, aperiodic and pseudo-periodic sounds?
  5. * Using speech sounds, give examples of (i) periodic, (ii) aperiodic, and (iii) pseudo-periodic sounds.
  6. * What is the difference between a partial, harmonic, and overtone?
  7. What is meant by "spectral content?"
  8. What is a sound "envelope?"


  1. On the graph below sketch the region of audibility.
  2. * The perceived loudness of a sound is dependent upon many factors. List six of these factors. Using an asterisk, identify which factor is the most important.
  3. What do the Fletcher-Munson curves represent?
  4. When the volume control of a hi-fi system is turned down low, what perceived change occurs to the spectrum of frequencies?
  5. When the volume control of a hi-fi system is turned down low, is there less physical energy in the bass relative to the treble?
  6. * Define pitch.
  7. * Define chroma.
  8. * How many "cents" are there in a "semit?"
  9. Describe the phenomenon of "stretched octaves."
  10. * The Comma of Didymus is also known as ...
  11. * What is the significance of the Comma of Didymus?
  12. SONES are to LOUDNESS, as ____________ are to PITCH.
  13. What affect does increasing loudness have on the perceived pitch of a frequency?
  14. * Critical bands are know to be related to distances on the basilar membrane. In millimeters, what is the approximate size of a critical band?
  15. * The size of a critical band varies according to frequency. In the middle range of hearing what is the approximate size of a critical band -- expressed as a musical interval?
  16. There are two forms of Temporal Masking: forward masking and backward masking. Which of the two forms is more marked in its effect?


  1. * What is "middle C" in the middle of?
  2. * How are the pitches in chords typically spaced and why?
  3. * What two equally-tempered 7-note scales provide the greatest potential for sensory consonance?
  4. * What is tonal fusion?
  5. * Absolute Pitch (AP) has been found to change with age. What is the nature of that change?
  6. * Abraham (1901) suggested that Absolute Pitch is innate to all listeners, and that children gradual "unlearn" it as they grow up. How did Abraham suggest we "unlearn" AP?
  7. * What common error is made by musicians possessing `perfect pitch'? What does this error suggest?
  8. * Miyazaki (1989) collected reaction-time and identification-error measures that imply that absolute pitch is a learned phenomenon. What did Miyazaki's data show?
  9. * What is meant by a "key characteristic?"
  10. * What is a "Shepard's Tone" and what does it demonstrate?
  11. * Define arousal.
  12. * Identify six changes associated with increased arousal?
  13. * What is the difference between tonic arousal and phasic arousal?
  14. * What is the difference between active and passive auditory attention?
  15. * What is an orienting response? What are the characteristic physiological changes associated with orienting responses?
  16. * What did Nakamura (1987) discover about how listeners perceive crescendos and diminuendos?
  17. * What did Mathews (1979) discover about how listeners perceive crescendos of different duration?
  18. * What pattern is characteristic of Beethoven's dynamics? What is the psychological significance of this pattern?
  19. Two tones begin precisely in tune. One of the tones is then gradually tuned away from the other. Describe in detail the perceptual changes which ensue as the two tones move apart.
  20. * In 1961 Donald Greenwood releated tonal dissonance to the critical band. His theory states that ...
  21. * Does tonal consonance/dissonance depend upon the timbre of the participating tones?
  22. Order the following pitch intervals according to the degree of tonal consonance as perceived by an untrained naive listener. (minimum dissonance = 1)
    ________ Unison
    ________ Minor Second
    ________ Major Second
    ________ Minor Third
    ________ Major Third
    ________ Perfect Fourth
    ________ Perfect Fifth
  23. * Greenwood's theory of sensory dissonance suggests that there is a very simple way by which a performer can reduce the dissonance of a musical work. What can the performer do?
  24. * What is an auditory stream?
  25. * Melodies are structured in accordance with Fitts' law. Describe Fitts' law and explain why melodies would be organized this way.
  26. * Using a diagram, describe why melodies tend to be more easily perceived when placed in the highest voice.
  27. * About how many concurrent musical parts are musicians able to track without excessive difficulty?
  28. * In general, Bach prefers to use those intervals with the lowest sensory dissonance, and to avoid dissonant harmonic intervals. However, some intervals provide a notable exception to this practice. Which intervals constitute the exception, and why?
  29. * Does Bach tend to avoid inner-voice entries? Explain.
  30. * What did Jay Dowling (1973) discover?
  31. * Define tonal closure.
  32. * Describe Krumhansl's work on tonality perception.
  33. * Identify and describe four classic types of musical textures.
  34. Are large melodic leaps more apt to ascend or descend in pitch?
  35. What physiological phenomenon might account for the so-called melodic arch?


  1. * Enculturation dominates a child's auditory and musical development until what age? (Moog, 1976)
  2. * Children are typically unable to discriminate atonal from tonal melodies until what age?
  3. * At about what age is continued musical development entirely attributable to environmental factors such as musical instruction or training, or through general exposure to music?
  4. * Identify four features of lullabies that make them especially suited to infants. (Hint: compare with infant-directed soothing speech.)
  5. At what age do children typically show less spontaneous body movement in response to music?
  6. At what age do children typically show substantial rhythmic coordination?
  7. * Indicate the relative order of the child's development for each of the following musical/auditory attributes: rhythm, tonality, localization, pitch, style.


  1. Identify five physiological responses to noise that occur outside of the auditory system.
  2. Noise-induced permanent hearing damage first occurs in what range of frequencies?
  3. A fetus will involuntarily increase its heart pulse with sounds as low as ________ dB SPL.
  4. Gjestland discovered that the length of time between recurring loud noises affects a listener's tolerance more than the actual loudness of the noise. Which rate of occurrence was more disturbing: a fast rate or a slow rate?
  5. What have audiologists learned from studying the Mabban tribe of Sudan?
  6. What is an ototoxin? Give two examples of ototoxins.
  7. Describe the Lombard Effect?
  8. You have gone out with your friends to a discotheque noted for loud music. Describe a "worst case" scenario from the point of view of possible hearing damage.


  1. * Broca's and Wernicke's regions both contribute to language skills. What is the difference between the functions of these two areas?
  2. * Define the following disorders: Broca's aphasia, musical alexia, anomia, musical agnosia.
    Broca's Aphasia:
    Musical Alexia:
    Musical Agnosia:
  3. * Broca's aphasia is most commonly caused by what medical condition?
  4. Draw and identify 5 typical single unit responses to tone bursts.
  5. Gordon and Bogen (1974) performed an experiment in which they alternately anesthetized the left and right cerebral hemispheres. What did they discover?
  6. * In the case of non-musicians, music perception and cognition appear to be localized primarily in the right cerebral hemisphere. Identify four fields of evidence that can be cited in support of this "standard" view of hemispheric specialization? (4)
  7. * What important discovery was made by Bever and Chiarello in 1974?
  8. What evidence do we have that trained musicians experience music differently than non-musicians?


  1. * Identify the three "natal" emotions (i.e. emotions we're born with).
  2. * Identify seven basic human emotions.
  3. * Give examples of secondary human emotions.
  4. * Describe the concept of misattribution.
  5. What does John Ohala think is the origin of the smile?
  6. What feature characterizes the "false smile"?
  7. Damage to what area of the brain is associated with emotional deficits related to planning and decision-making?
  8. Damasio and his colleagues have carried out a number of experiments where brain-damaged patients gamble with cards. What do these experiments show?
  9. The non-dominant hemisphere (typically the right hemisphere) is known to be more closely linked to emotion than the dominant (left) hemisphere. Identify four types of evidence supporting this view.
  10. * Most music listeners take an interest in the personal lives, beliefs, and thoughts of those musicians whose music they appreciate. Outline a theoretic account (discussed in class) that might explain this extra-musical preoccupation.
  11. * Temple Grandin suffers from a notable emotional deficit. Identify the nature of the deficit and comment on how this deficit might explain her disinterest in music.
  12. * What does the case of Temple Grandin suggest regarding music?
  13. * What four characteristics are associated with Williams Syndrome?
  14. * Describe the two-dimensional model of mood proposed by Thayer.


  1. Define impulse.
  2. Define and contrast pulse and impulse.
  3. Define and contrast pulse and beat.
  4. Moog (1978) found that individuals with normal mental abilities but severe physical handicaps (restricted movement) have greater difficulties with rhythmic perception. What theory of rhythm does this evidence support?
  5. Describe the so-called "Motor Theory of Rhythm."


  1. Listeners tend to day-dream frequently while listening to music. What neurological account might be given to explain the predominance of day-dreaming?
  2. About what proportion of people report seeing or imagining visual images while listening to music?
  3. Does musical training tend to increase or decrease the amount of visual imagery experienced by a listener?
  4. According to Bharucha's research, do we react faster or slower to sounds we expect?
  5. What is "memory scan listening?"
  6. What is tonality?
  7. * According to Krumhansl's theory of tonality, what pitch is most likely to be perceived as the tonic?


  1. What are the four basic types of service provided by Muzak?
  2. * What is the goal of Muzak for work areas?
  3. * What two features of the normal work-day does Muzak attempt to offset?
  4. * What four factors does Muzak consider in measuring the "stimulus value" of a musical work?
  5. * Explain the stimulus progression concept in Muzak.
  6. * How does Muzak for light and heavy industry differ from Muzak for office areas?
  7. * Describe the Hawthorne Effect.
  8. * What is the Yerkes-Dodson law? How might it apply to listening to music?


  1. Identify four institutional settings in which music therapy is typically practised.
  2. What psychological disorder has music therapy proved most successful as a treatment?
  3. Involving a patient in music-making activities is one of the most important methods of music therapy. Identify five ways in which patient-performed music may have a therapeutic function.


  1. In the Suzuki method of musical training, what skilled activity is deferred until the last in the instruction of a child?
  2. In the Suzuki method of musical training, the initial training regimen consists of the sequence:
    listen - remember - play
    In a later stage of training, the regimen is changed. What is the new sequence?
  3. * Identify six symptoms characteristic of performance anxiety.
  4. * The symptoms of `stage fright' are caused by what natural body response?
  5. * Identify and describe three different types of performance memory.
  6. * What form of musical memory is the most common amongst performers?
  7. What features distinguish a good reader of musical notation from a poor reader?
  8. * What is "proof-reader's error?"
  9. "Proof-reader's errors" occur most frequently at what part of a musical phrase?
  10. Identify two saccadic approaches to music reading and indicate the types of musical contexts in which each is likely to appear.
  11. * What is "frisson?"
  12. * Describe the effect of the drug Naloxone. Identify its significance in the psychology of music.
  13. * What evidence do we have that listening to music releases endorphins?
  14. Compare and contrast the drugs naloxone and propranolol.
  15. * What is the NAPS theory of music?
  16. * What did Fukui (1996) discover?
  17. Compare and contrast the theories of musical meaning espoused by Deryck Cooke, Philip Tagg, and Leonard Meyer.
  18. Identify and describe three types of rhythmic stress.


  1. What evidence do we have that musical competence is something qualitatively different than general intellectual or mental competence?
  2. What is the difference between a musical aptitude and a musical ability?
  3. In order for a test or measure of musical aptitudes or abilities to be good, what two general criteria must it meet?


  1. What did Sherif (1935) discover about group norms?
  2. What did Scott (1957) discover concerning the effect of rewards for attitude change?
  3. What did Asch (1951) discover about group norms?
  4. What did Keane (1982) discover concerning interpretation of the meaning of a musical work?
  5. * In On Human Finery Quentin Bell claims that the fashion cycle is propelled by what social-psychological impulse?