Brief Exposure to Notated Scores: Pianists' Quick Impressions of Musical Style




dual processing, intuition, musical expertise, music reading, musical style


This study concerns classical musicians' ability to recognize style periods from very brief visual exposure to musical notation. 25 professional pianists were shown nine 500-ms displays of musical excerpts from piano works by J. S. Bach, L. v. Beethoven, and F. Chopin. The pianists were told to describe what they saw and to assess the style period of the music. Recognition was relatively good: 49% of the verbal protocols included a correct style period label or the right composer name. Verbal protocols also supported the notion that style recognition chiefly relies on intuitive, holistic integration of information, rather than on reflective, analytic processing. First, correct responses regarding style period occurred significantly earlier than incorrect ones, which suggests that they may have taken place more intuitively. Second, correct recognitions were not preceded by richer spoken contents than was found in the case of non-recognition. Indeed, the opposite was the case for composer recognition, which again associates recognition with intuitive processing. It is argued that the rapid recognition of musical style characteristics is a prerequisite for stylistically sensitive sight reading.




How to Cite

Huovinen, E., & Rinne, J. (2024). Brief Exposure to Notated Scores: Pianists’ Quick Impressions of Musical Style. Empirical Musicology Review, 18(1), 42–59.