Artificial grammar learning of melody is constrained by melodic inconsistency: Narmour’s principles affect melodic learning.


Considerable evidence suggests that people acquire artificial grammars incidentally and implicitly, an indispensable capacity for the acquisition of music or language. However, less research has been devoted to exploring constraints affecting incidental learning. Within the domain of music, the extent to which Narmour's (1990) melodic principles affect implicit learning of melodic structure was experimentally explored. Extending previous research (Rohrmeier, Rebuschat & Cross, 2011), the identical finite-state grammar is employed having terminals (the alphabet) manipulated so that melodies generated systematically violated Narmour's principles. Results indicate that Narmour-inconsistent melodic materials impede implicit learning. This further constitutes a case in which artificial grammar learning is affected by prior knowledge or processing constraints.