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Re: effects of musical experience on pitch perception?
Anecdotal commentary only, having taught various types and levels of
ear-training for 35 years.
(Apart from the idea that someone who is trained on an instrument
being a 'musician', with which I have some difficulty ... ) I have
found that individuals have a 'basic' level of discrimination, and it
may be coarse ("tone deaf" -- my brother) to fine (I scored 139 / 140
on Seashore when I was 11). I have met people with absolute pitch
whose resolution is only about 1/4 semitone.
From this my basic conclusion is that the limit (capacity) is innate,
the degree of development is strongly related to environment and
training. It is also my experience that those with "golden ears"
(even without [traditional] music training) will work in / with
sound, because that's what they can do so well.
It has become my thinking that to find out about sonic / musical
capacity, researchers need to work with the best, not a general
population. There is not much to be learned about running from the
1,200,000,000 people who can run a kilometer in 14 minutes, so I
would propose that 'high end' auditory researchers work with those
who are given 'the gift' (or whatever is an acceptable term these
This is not pc, but if you want to explore pitch and spectral
interconnection, it may be more fruitful to work with a (carefully)
selected population. This population would be such that when
presented with a complex spectral sound would report that the sound
segregates. Record a sequence of low C's on a piano, sustain pedal
down, say 1 minute, mezzoforte, with one note every three seconds.
How long does it take for the subject to report hearing the third and
fifth partials? As a researcher, more information 'may' be gleaned
from individuals who can hear (and report) this quickly, (or who hear
formant frequencies in sustained vowels).
This may not be what you are looking for, but it's part of my experience.
Associate-Professor (Music) / (EuCuE)
Department of Music (Electroacoustic Studies)
Faculty of Fine Arts
7141, rue Sherbrooke o
CANADA H4B 1R6
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 09:26:16 -0400
Subject: effects of musical experience on pitch perception?
I am writing to get some input from the list that may help me
interpret my data. ... 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 found no statistical difference in performance between musicians
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