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effects of musical experience on pitch perception?

Dear list,

I am writing to get some input from the list that may help me interpret my data. Specifically, I recently ran a study that investigated the effect of timbre on pitch perception for two groups of eight participants who had normal hearing: those who had formal experience playing a musical instrument (musicians), and those who had no formal experience playing a musical instrument (nonmusicians). Prior to participation in the experimental session, each participant was given a detailed demonstration of pitch and timbre, and then was evaluated in a training session that screened to ensure that he/she understood these attributes. A score of chance or better was required to proceed to the experimental session. I note that 7/15 (46.67% of the musicians failed the training procedure and 22/30 (73.33%) of the nonmusicians failed the training procedure. In analyzing my data, I found no statistical difference in performance between musicians and nonmusicians. I am thus wondering whether this might be due to my training procedure or whether pitch/timbre is an inherent "skill" regardless of any formal musical experience. (I acknowledge that studies have reported mixed outcomes on musical experience.) Any comments or suggestions for recommended reading that would help me put things into perspective would be greatly appreciated.



Robert Arrabito
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto
1133 Sheppard Avenue West
P.O. Box 2000
Toronto, ON  M3M 3B9

phone: (416) 635-2033
CSN: 634-2033
fax: (416) 635-2013
e-mail: Robert.Arrabito@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx