Influence of the Degree of Musical Accompaniment on Text Recall

Augustin Mutak, Andrea Vranić


Introspective findings show that remembering musical material is easier and lasts longer than the remembering other types of material. It is also known that people believe that music is a good mnemonic. However, these assumptions have not been experimentally confirmed. Experiments show that the positive effect of music on memorising is dependent on the conditions of memorising (e.g., memory for a musically accompanied or unaccompanied material is equal if the rate at which material is presented is the same). The effect of the degree of musical accompaniment on memory has rarely been studied. This study aimed at examining whether the degree of musical accompaniment affects the quantity of remembered text. Furthermore, memory strategies and characteristics of the material which might help memory were examined, depending on the degree of musical accompanimentA sample of 91 participants participated in the study. Participants were divided into three groups, and their task was to listen to a composition and remember as many lyrics as they can. The first group listened to the a capella version, the second group listened to a drum-only composition, and the third group listened to a composition with full musical accompaniment. Participants listened to a composition 6 times and wrote down all the lyrics they could remember after each listening. Demographic data were collected and participants filled out the Questionnaire on the use of strategies.ANOVA found no differences in the quantity of remembered lyrics between the three experimental groups. Also, no differences in the frequency of various memory strategies used were found. However, Fisher's exact test revealed a trend showing that the number of participants which reported that music helped them remember the lyrics has increased with the degree of musical accompaniment. Also, the number of participants which stated that the nature of vocal helped them remember text declines as the degree of musical accompaniment increases.The results of this study are in accordance with previous findings which suggest that musical accompaniment does not help in memorising. However, it seems that, regardless of objective indicators, participants have the impression that music helps them remember. This possibility is discussed through Kelley's covariation model of attribution. Two hypotheses are proposed to explain the results: the hypothesis on wrongly perceived high distinctiveness and the hypothesis on wrongly perceived high consistency of memory of music material.


recall; music; degree of musical accompaniment; mnemonic


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