Previous research has shown that musical training affects the type of cues people use to discriminate between auditory stimuli. The current study investigated whether quantity of musical training and musical area of expertise (voice, percussion instrument, non-percussion instrument) affected musical feature perception. Participants with 0-4 years of experience (13 non-musicians), 5-7 years of experience (13 intermediate musicians) and 8 years or more of experience (13 advanced musicians) were presented with pairs of 2.5 s novel music sequences that were identical (no change trials), differed by one musical feature (pitch change, timbre change, or rhythm change), and differed by two musical features (pitch and timbre change, pitch and rhythm change, or timbre and rhythm change). In 64 trials, participants had to report whether they heard a change, as well as classify the specific type of change. Participants in the advanced group (M = 91.2%) and intermediate groups (M = 85.0%) performed significantly better than non-musicians (M = 70.0%). There was no effect of area of musical expertise (voice or instrument) on musical feature change detection. These results suggest that musical training in any area increases the ability to perceive changes in pitch, timbre, and rhythm across unfamiliar auditory sequences.

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