Musical Mondegreens

I am currently interested in investigating types of practice errors musicians often make. This project identifies one of them, which I call the musical mondegreen. A mondegreen is a word or phrase created out of a mishearing of something said or sung due to the near-homophony of the actually enunciated word and the misinterpretation (Wright, 1954). A musical mondegreen occurs while learning a new piece of music. One misreads notes and substitutes in a melodic or rhythmic figure with certain similarities to the actual written figure. These substitutions could be based on common melodic expectations (Huron, 2006; Narmour, 1991). When a substitution is made, one’s ear may accept the melodic assumption and fail to recognize their mistake. It is this combination of misreading, assumption, and failure to aurally error-check that comprises the musical mondegreen. This project will attempt to research the cognitive process behind this type of error and will gather examples of the error into a collection. If you have any mondegreen examples, I would be happy to know what they are!

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