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Re: Absolute pitch discussion

Although I have to be modest in my claims, not being an expert in pitch, I find AP actually not such a special phenomenon. Although we could agree in dividing the phenomenon in degrees, or levels of preciseness on a more continuous scale, in the end we have to also see that Relative Pitch is far more special. While we might share AP with some animals, RP is far less common, arguably making AP in humans less special.


On 8 Sep 2007, at 15:49, Martin Braun wrote:

Dear Henkjan and list:

..... Schellenberg and Trehub (2003) find support for a normal, not
bimodal, distribution once pitch-naming or reproduction requirements are
eliminated and familiar materials (such as soundtracks of tv
programs) are used.

I agree that this paper reports very useful data, which support earlier
evidence for precognitive absolute pitch (AP) as a general human trait.
However the performance in memory of pitch level of popular TV soundtracks
was only slightly above chance level. This observation indicates that the
underlying memory substrate is not the same as in the AP skill of tone

We appear to have two different phenomena:

A: A moderately precise memory for pitch that can be learned by adults and
that shows normal distribution of performance in a tested group.



B: A highly precise memory for pitch that cannot be learned by adults and
that shows bimodal (all-or-nothing) distribution of performance in a tested



Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Klässbol
web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm


Dr H. Honing
Universiteit van Amsterdam

Music Matters: http://www.musiccognition.nl/blog