ASA 126th Meeting Denver 1993 October 4-8

4pPP7. The tritone paradox and speakers' voice range: A dubious connection.

Bruno H. Repp

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511-6695

Deutsch and her co-workers [Music Percept. 7, 371--384 (1990); 8, 335--347 (1991)] have proposed that individual differences in the perception of the so-called tritone paradox (i.e., the perceived direction of pitch change in pairs of Shepard tones six semitones apart) derive from listeners' reference to a template acquired through experience with the pitch range of their own voice. Deutsch has reported a striking difference in tritone perception between American and British listeners, as well as a correspondence with the upper limit of the voice pitch range within an American group. The present study compared groups of Dutch, British, and American listeners. Contrary to Deutsch's observations, the perceptual results of these three groups were very similar, and there was no correlation with individual differences in vocal range within any group. Instead, there were large and systematic differences as a function of stimulus characteristics (spectral envelope), which further contradicts Deutsch's findings. These results suggest that, rather than deriving from a language-based pitch template, the perception of tritone stimuli depends on psychoacoustic factors and individual differences in auditory processing whose nature is not well understood at present. [Work carried out at IPO, Eindhoven.]