Identifying absolute pitch possessors without using a note-naming task

Author
Weisman, R. G.
Balkwill, L.-L.
Hoeschele, M.
Moscicki, Michele
Sturdy, C. B.
Faculty Advisor
Date
2012
Keywords
pitch-range discrimination , half-octave discrimination , note naming , pitch classification and production , independence of AP from age of onset and duration of music training
Abstract (summary)
English: Most researchers measure absolute pitch (AP) using note-naming tasks that presume expertise with the scales of Western music. If note naming constitutes the only measure, then by fiat, only trained musicians can possess AP. Here we report on an AP test that does not require a note-naming response. The participants were 15 AP possessors and 45 nonpossessors defined by note naming. We presented sine tones tuned to the 12-note chromatic scale in a go/no-go discrimination between the first and second 6 notes in 3 successive octaves. This half-octave discrimination test predicted AP performance in the note-naming test with high accuracy and, in particular never falsely predicted that a nonpossessor defined by note naming was an AP possessor. We found 2 heterogeneities in the AP performance of our participants. Incremental AP possessors scored above the criterion for AP in 2 note-naming tests but required 2 sessions to attain accurate half-octave discriminations. Variable AP/NAP (nonabsolute pitch) possessors scored above criterion for AP in 1 naming test and below criterion in a second naming test but below criterion on the half-octave test. Our findings suggest the use of the half-octave discrimination test in future research into heterogeneities in AP and, most important, in the search for AP possessors untutored in music.
Publication Information
Weisman, R.G., Balkwill, L-L., Hoeschele, M., Moscicki, M.K. & Sturdy, C.B. (2012). Identifying absolute pitch possessors without using a note-naming task. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind & Brain, 22(1), 46-54.
DOI
Notes
Item Type
Article
Language
English
Rights
All Rights Reserved