The Featherstone Set

In this set of auditory stimuli, both congruence and resolution were manipulated in equivalent ways across harmony, rhythm, semantics and syntax. Three conditions were created by changing the context preceding and following musical and linguistic incongruities originally used for effect by authors and composers:

  • stimuli in the Incongruous-Resolved condition reproduced the original incongruity and resolution into the same context
  • stimuli in the Incongruous-Unresolved condition reproduced the incongruity but continued post-incongruity with a new context dictated by the incongruity
  • stimuli in the Congruous condition presented the same element of interest, but the entire context was adapted to match it so that it was no longer incongruous.
The manipulations rendered unrecognisable the original incongruities from which the stimuli were adapted, while maintaining ecological validity. To listen to the stimuli, click on the condition names under each image.


Harmony graphic
The piece starts and ends in the same key (here, F Major) but contains an incongruous chord, borrowed from a different key (here, B flat Major).
The entire piece is in the key of the chord of interest (here, B flat Major), making the chord of interest congruous with its harmonic context.
the piece starts in one key (here, F Major) and ends in the key of the chord of interest (here, B flat Major), precluding harmonic resolution. after the element of interest


Rhythm graphic
The incongruous rhythm of interest resolves into the rhythmic pattern of the beginning of the stimulus (here, a sequence in 4/4 contains a bar in which the beat emphasis sounds like 9/8 and returns to a standard 4/4 pattern).
The beat is adapted to fit with the rhythmic pattern of interest, which is no longer incongruous with its rhythmic context (here, the entire piece is in 9/8).
The stimulus starts with one rhythmic pattern but ends with a different rhythmic pattern, dictated by the incongruous pattern of interest (here, a sequence in 4/4 continues in 9/8 after the rhythmic pattern of interest), precluding the resolution of the rhythmic incongruity into a rhythmically consistent pattern.


Semantics graphic
The sentence contains a metaphorically incongruous element (here, eating) that is given greater meaning in the latter part of the sentence
The sentence contains the same element of interest (here, eating), but its use is literal.
The sentence is made up of the beginning of the Incongruous-Resolved sentence and the end of the Congruous sentence rendering it nonsensical, thereby precluding the semantic resolution of the incongruity.


Syntax graphic
the sentence presents a meaningful functional shift (noun used as a verb, here, trousers) which constitutes a syntactic incongruity which can be integrated into the sentence as a whole
A sentence with a simple syntactic structure uses the word of interest (here, trousers) as a noun.
The sentence starts as in the Incongruous-Resolved condition but then continues in with a syntactic structure dictated by the functional shift, precluding the syntactic resolution of the word of interest (here, trousers).