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pitch discrimination performance in musicians
Dear Roy and List,
There are some published data on the question of pitch discrimination
performance in musicians, compared to non-musicians. In particular:
- Spiegel and Watson (1984) Performance on frequency-discrimination
tasks by musicians and non-musicians. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 76, 1960-1965.
- Kishon-Rabin, Amir, Vexler, and Zaltz (2001) Pitch discrimination: are
professional musicians better than non-musicians? J Basic Clin Physiol
Pharmacol 12, 125-143.
- Micheyl, Delhommeau, Perrot, and Oxenham (2006) Influence of musical
and psychoacoustical training on pitch discrimination. Hear. Res. 219,
The results of these studies concur to demonstrate statistically lower
frequency- and F0-discrimination limens in musicians compared to
It takes several hours of practice of the pitch-discrimination task, for
the latter group to obtain thresholds that are as low (on average) as
those of the musicians -- with substantial inter-individual differences
in both initial performance and improvement (see Micheyl et al., 2006
Department of Psychology
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Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 13:52:16 +0000
From: Roy Patterson <rdp1@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Five string bass
It is unlikely that it is the ears that are trained. It is more likely
to be the brain, or the use of words to describe perceptions. But to
begin with we need to understand just what it is that trained musicians
can do with low notes that the rest of us can't.
Do you really think they can reliably make finer pitch discriminations?
I understand that they think they can, but is it true of the population
of trained musicians? And if it is true, is it a big difference?
If so, someone should try and demonstrate just how much better they are.
Regards Roy P
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