Reduction of the harmonic series influences musical enjoyment with cochlear implants

John S. Nemer, Gavriel D. Kohlberg, Dean M. Mancuso, Brianna M. Griffin, Michael V. Certo, Stephanie Y. Chen, Michael B. Chun, Jaclyn B. Spitzer, Anil K. Lalwani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: Cochlear implantation is associated with poor music perception and enjoyment. Reducing music complexity has been shown to enhance music enjoyment in cochlear implant (CI) recipients. In this study, we assess the impact of harmonic series reduction on music enjoyment. Study Design: Prospective analysis of music enjoyment in normal-hearing (NH) individuals and CI recipients. Setting: Single tertiary academic medical center. Patients: NH adults (N=20) and CI users (N=8) rated the Happy Birthday song on three validated enjoyment modalities-musicality, pleasantness, and naturalness. Intervention: Subjective rating of music excerpts. Main Outcome Measures: Participants listened to seven different instruments play the melody, each with five levels of harmonic reduction (Full, F3+F2+F1+F0, F2+F1+F0, F1+F0, F0). NH participants listened to the segments both with and without CI simulation. Linear mixed effect models (LME) and likelihood ratio tests were used to assess the impact of harmonic reduction on enjoyment. Results: NH listeners without simulation rated segments with the first four harmonics (F3+F2+F1+F0) most pleasant and natural ( p<0.001, p =0.004). NH listeners with simulation rated the first harmonic alone (F0) most pleasant and natural ( p<0.001, p =0.003). Their ratings demonstrated a positive linear relationship between harmonic reduction and both pleasantness (slope estimate=0.030, SE =0.004, p<0.001, LME) and naturalness (slope estimate=0.012, SE=0.003, p =0.003, LME). CI recipients also found the first harmonic alone (F0) to be most pleasant ( p =0.003), with a positive linear relationship between harmonic reduction and pleasantness (slope estimate=0.029, SE=0.008, p<0.001, LME). Conclusion: Harmonic series reduction increases music enjoyment in CI and NH individuals with or without CI simulation. Therefore, minimization of the harmonics may be a useful strategy for enhancing musical enjoyment among both NH and CI listeners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cochlear implant simulation
  • Cochlear implantation
  • Harmonic series
  • Music enjoyment
  • Timbre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduction of the harmonic series influences musical enjoyment with cochlear implants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this