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Re: Pitch learning

Annabel --

It was fun to read your comments about my article with Tony Wright et al.
It would have been nice to do other transpositions, as you suggest, but you
are right that there is only so much that one can do in a given project.

Most importantly, although we could have used sine tones for stimuli, that
would probably not eliminate completely the possibility of an harmonic-based
transposition because of the difficulty (if not the impossibility) of
generating harmonic-free stimuli even with sine tones.  Even more to the
point, it seems to me that it is critical to focus not only on the stimulus
properties of the tonal melodies, but also on those of the atonal melodies,
because the same concerns would apply to the atonal melodies for which
transposition did not occur.  The fact that tonal -- but not atonal --
melodies produced transposition is the key point, and that suggests very
strongly that something other than transposition based on some physical
characteristic of the stimulus was at work in the tonal melodies.
Otherwise, we would have expected transposition in the atonal melodies as

Best regards,

Stew Hulse

-----Original Message-----
From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception
[mailto:AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Annabel Cohen
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 9:22 PM
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Pitch learning

On this discussion of  the representation of pitch in music, Martin 
Braun's reference to 

provides a further reference to:


 the Wright, Rivera, Hulse, Shyan & Neiworth (2000; Journal of 
Experimental Psychology:General) article on octave generalization in 
rhesus monkeys.

The evidence in this paper for octave generalization for tonal 
melodies by rhesus monkeys is impressive, however, whether this  
reflects something special about sensitivity to the octave (chroma) 
rather than sensitivity to the overtone series or periodicity is 
still not clear from this study.  The data are interpreted in terms 
of sensitivity to the octave. The possibility of the sensitivity to 
periodicity is not mentioned  (from my quick recent reading of the 

Transposition to the tritone (6 semitones) was the only non-octave 
transposition examined. I expect for reasons of expediency (i.e., a 
lot more testing required), the authors did not test rhesus monkeys 
on a condition of transposition to the perfect fifth (ratio 3/2 - 7 
semitones up or 5 semitones down) in addition to the 1.5 octave ( 6 
semitones -- the tritone).  It would have been nice to know if rhesus 
monkeys could be shown to recognize a  transposed melody better if  
transposed to the (harmonically near) perfect fifth as compared to 
the  tritone. 

The monkey's sensitivity to tonality  also shown in the Wright et al. 
(2000) study is consistent with this possible outcome, i.e., that the 
perfect fifth would lead to higher performance than the tritone 
transposition.   It can be pointed out also that the timbres used in 
the Wright et al. study were synthesized instrument tones, which 
physically represent the octave. A more conservative approach would 
be to use sine tones such that the octave was not present in the 
original melodic stimulus (or even synthesized timbres lacking small 
integer multiples of the fundamental). 

Annabel Cohen

On 7 Feb 2007 at 20:02, Martin Braun wrote:

> Ole Kühl wrote:
> "We could say that we conceptualize a pitch through the integration of
> information from two different domains: a perceived timbre domain and
> a learned schema for partials."
> It does not seem to be a cognitive process, rather a sensory one.
> Musicians make use of it without being aware of much.
> Integration across different auditory domains, yes. I would call it
> the timbre domain and the chroma domain (for the given case of extreme
> low pitch from musical instruments).
> It may not be necessary to assume "a learned schema for partials",
> though. The anatomy of the auditory thalamus suggests a chroma
> filtering that is as precognitive as the f0 filtering in the midbrain.
> For a very short summary, see:
> http://web.telia.com/~u57011259/eng7.htm
> Martin
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Martin Braun Neuroscience of Music S-671 95 Klässbol Sweden web site:
> http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm

Annabel J. Cohen, Ph. D.
Department of Psychology
University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, P.E.I. C1A 4P3  CANADA
e:mail acohen@xxxxxxx
phone: (902) 628-4325  office;  (902) 628-4331  lab
fax: (902) 628-4359