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Re: absolute pitch -- gender differences

Dear List,

absolute pitch is a form of categorical perception. You hear immediately the
name of note when it is played for you on a familiar instrument.  For me
these are the notenames do, re, mi etc. I suppose that you get it when they
tell you at a very young age the names of the tones. I have been talking to
Japanese researchers who have found a very large incidence of absolute pitch
amoung the children that were educated with the Suzuki method, which starts
around the age of 3. It seems to be very difficult to acquire at later age.
There is a publication of someone about 25 years ago in JASA, who has tried
and finally after long training could identify to a certain degree the
I have done myself some reaction time experiments. The fact that I found a
confusion matrix with many errors between mi and si and fa and la led me to
suppose that there is this direct link with the name of the note. From other
publications it is known that AP subjects make quite a few octave errors,
while NAP subject make more errors of a few semitones.

To come back to the categorical perception. This means that absolute pitch
is certainly not perfect pitch. A couple of psychologists, Siegel and
Siegel, have shown that "musicians cann't tell the difference between sharp
and flat" (this was also the name of their publication). They devided the
octave up in many smal steps and presented tones out of this set to AP
musicians (or melodic intervals to NAP musicians) and found that they really
put the notes (or intervals) in certain categories.  Be careful when you
tell afterwards to the musicians what you did, some become angry - according
to Siegel and Siegel.

I don't know anything about gender difference with respect to AP. But I also
would not know what it could learn me about the mechanism. I would, however,
be interested in how the absolute pitch will behave in older people. Mostly
hearing gets worse, but if it is so strongly related to childrens hearing,
perhaps this is one of the faculties that may become better again. I hope to
tell you in some 20 or 30 years.

Leon van Noorden

> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: AUDITORY Research in Auditory Perception
> [mailto:AUDITORY@LISTS.MCGILL.CA]namens Bruno L. Giordano
> Verzonden: 28 apr 04 16:48
> Onderwerp: absolute pitch -- gender differences
> Dear list,
> a colleague is asking for references on studies which compared
> the occurrence
> of absolute pitch in males and females.
> Please reply to: Laetitia.Colonna@ircam.fr
> Thanks,
>    Bruno
> -------------------------------------------------
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