Effects of voice timbre and accompaniment on working memory as measured by sequential monosyllabic digit recall performance

Michael J Silverman, Edward T. Schwartzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Information is often paired with music in an attempt to facilitate recall and enhance learning. However, there is a lack of basic research investigating how music carrying information might facilitate recall and subsequent learning. Objective: The purpose of the current study was to determine the effects of voice timbre and accompaniment on working memory as measured by recall performance on a sequential digit recall task. Specific research questions were as follows: (a) How might female and male voice timbres affect serial recall? (b) How might piano, guitar, and no accompaniment affect serial recall? (c) Do music majors have enhanced recall accuracy when compared to nonmusic majors? Methods: The recall of information paired with six different melodies was tested on 60 university students. Melodies were composed and recorded using female and male voices with three levels of accompaniment: guitar, piano, and no accompaniment. Results: Participants had more accurate recall during the male voice and piano and no accompaniment conditions and least accurate recall during the female voice and guitar accompaniment conditions. Conclusions: As participants had most accurate recall during the male voice and with piano or no accompaniment, clinicians are encouraged to consider using no accompaniment or piano accompaniment when initially teaching social and academic information paired with music for later recall. When possible, vocal timbre (i.e., the potential benefit of male voicing) should also be considered. Implications for clinical practice, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of music therapy
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • accompaniment
  • memory
  • music
  • paired associate
  • recall
  • voice timbre
  • working memory

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