This chapter treats six connected issues of musical expertise. It examines the difficulties associated with characterising expertise in a way that offers a genuine foothold for cognitive psychology, and suggests that expertise may not, in fact, be ‘special’ in any cognitively interesting sense. It goes on to review some experimental studies of music, which suggest that most members of a culture possess tacit musical expertise, expressed in their ability to use high-level structural information in carrying out a variety of perceptual tasks. This expertise seems to be acquired through casual exposure to the musical forms and activities of the culture. The chapter then provides two detailed examples of exceptional musical expertise that apparently developed in the absence of formal instruction, suggesting that normal and ‘exceptional’ expertise may be parts of a single continuum. It finally discusses that musical expertise requires an apprehension of a structure-emotion mapping.
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