Operant Preference for Vocal Balance in Four-Voice Chorales

Janice Nelson Killian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The investigation was designed to determine preference for balance in four-voice chorales. Choral conductors (n = 35) and high school choral students (n = 52) verbally stated their balance preference and then listened individually to SATB chorale excerpts. Subjects were instructed to manipulate the loudness controls of a four-channel tape recorder as an operant measure of preferred balance. The tape recorder allowed regulation of the loudness of a single voice without affecting the other three. Subjects heard two equally balanced trials and eight unbalanced trials (one voice 9–13 dB louder than the other three). Analyses indicated: (a) subjects preferred significantly less bass; (b) subjects could discriminate when a single voice was unbalanced; however, the unbalanced voice was adjusted significantly louder relative to balanced trials, indicating an initial perception effect; and (c) there were no significant differences between students and conductors. Further results are discussed in terms of application to music education and implications for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1985


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