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Research Overview Determining chords and chord progressions by ear is part of musicianship, yet this is a skill in which many musicians are deficient. Players of monophonic instruments (like trumpet, voice, and sax) may be more deficient than performers of polyphonic instruments (like piano and guitar) due to their lack of experience playing chords. In the past, institutions have attempted to get students to understand harmonic motion and tonal contexts of chords by having them use a piano as an aid, yet, for those who lack the same proficiency on a piano as they do on their primary instrument, more effort is spent on the physical act of performing back the harmony than in actually listening to the harmony, its motion, and the context of each chord in the progression in an attempt to understand it.
focused on the use of technology in an effort to
separate the cognitive functions of analyzing chords and
chord progressions from the physical actions involved in
performing them by allowing individuals to use a
software-based musical instrument to play diatonic
chords. The software instrument E006 was designed to
make playing back chords in a diatonic key much easier
than performing with a traditional acoustic instrument;
a participant need only press the number keys 1 - 7 on
their computer keyboard to play the chord functions 1 -
7 in a selected key.
Over the course of six weeks, participants in the experimental group were asked to listen to popular music and, using the software as an aid, perform alone and with the audio accompaniment. Additional activities asked participants to determine the chords and the progressions in selected music with and without the aid of the software. Participants in the control group participated in the same activities, but used a traditional acoustic instrument as an aid instead of the software instrument.