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Diversity of accuracy profiles for absolute pitch recognition

Bahr, Nan, Christensen, Carol , & Bahr, Mark (2005) Diversity of accuracy profiles for absolute pitch recognition. Psychology of Music, 33(1), pp. 58-93.

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Abstract

Most advanced musicians are able to identify and label a heard pitch if given an opportunity to compare it to a known reference note. This is called ‘relative pitch’ (RP). A much rarer skill is the ability to identify and label a heard pitch without the need for a reference. This is colloquially referred to as ‘perfect pitch’, but appears in the academic literature as ‘absolute pitch’ (AP). AP is considered by many as a remarkable skill. As people do not seem able to develop it intentionally, it is generally regarded as innate. It is often seen as a unitary skill and that a set of identifiable criteria can distinguish those who possess the skill from those who do not. However, few studies have interrogated these notions. The present study developed and applied an interactive computer program to map pitch-labelling responses to various tonal stimuli without a known reference tone available to participants. This approach enabled the identification of the elements of sound that impacted on AP. Pitch-labelling responses of 14 participants with AP were recorded for their accuracy. Each participant’s response to the stimuli was unique. Their accuracy of labelling varied across dimensions such as timbre, range and tonality. The diversity of performance between individuals appeared to reflect their personal musical experience histories.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 26360
Item Type: Journal Article
DOI: 10.1177/0305735605048014
ISSN: 0305-7356
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > OTHER PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (179900)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 05 Nov 2009 16:11
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:54

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