Listening in the Mix

Lead vocals robustly attract auditory attention in popular music

In this work (Bürgel, Picinali, & Siedenburg, 2021, Front. Psych), we explore the salience of different sound sources in popular music mixes. It turns out that vocals attract auditory attention in a particularly salient way. 

Detection task

Listeners had to detect a single target instrument in short excerpts of popular music extracted from the musiclarity database. Half the time the target was present in the mixture. The target instrument cues were presented either before or after the mix. An additional audio filtering and sound level manipulation was applied to investigate the effect on the locus of attention.

 

Mixture followed by Target

Vocals (present in the mixture) Vocals (absent from the mixture) Vocals (-05 dB) Vocals (-15 dB) Vocals (Passband) Vocals (Stopband)
Piano (present in the mixture) Piano (absent from the mixture) Bass (-05 dB) Bass (-15 dB) Guitar (Passband) Guitar (Stopband)


Target followed by Mixture

Vocals (present in the mixture) Vocals (absent from the mixture) Vocals (-05 dB) Vocals (-15 dB) Vocals (Passband) Vocals (Stopband)
Piano (present in the mixture) Piano (absent from the mixture) Bass (-05 dB) Bass (-15 dB) Guitar (Passband) Guitar (Stopband)

 

(Stand: 27.05.2022)