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Re: C1 to C#1

Although I'd be quick to applaud any 10-year old who reproduced the Jaws theme on the lowest tones of a piano, my guess is that a successful rendering of a more complex theme (produced by child, adult, or monkey) would stand a good chance of going completely unnoticed, particularly if you stripped away important non-pitch cues like rhythm and timbral relations. 

My collaborators and I have found that perception of TONALITY drops off quite rapidly for piano tones played below A1. Perception of tonality was tested using a probe-tone method in which a key-defining context (do-mi-do-sol) was followed by a probe tone selected from the same piano octave. Participants were asked to judge the goodness of fit of the probe tone in relation to its preceding context. Probe-tone ratings in the lowest octaves of the piano were not well differentiated and lacked the characteristic tonal hierarchy (tonic > mediant/domnant > other scale tones > nonscale tones) found in the middle range. Results were well modeled by taking into account both pitch salience (after Terhardt) and inharmonicity.

The forthcoming paper entitled ?Sensitivity to tonality across the pitch range? is co-authored with Cuddy, Galembo & Thompson and is in press at the journal Perception.

Frank A. Russo, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Ryerson University
350 Victoria Street
Toronto, ON M5B 2K3

Email: russo@xxxxxxxxxx
Web: http://www.psych.ryerson.ca/russo
Tel: 416-979-5000 ext. 2647
Fax: 416-979-5273