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Re: The climb of absolute pitch

Hollien & Shipp (1972) described F0 in males aged 20 to 89 and reported a pattern that has been replicated in several other studies: in males, F0 falls with age until some tipping point (variously reported between 50 and 70 years) and then starts to increase.  For women, there aren’t as many data but it looks like F0 falls with age (e.g. Torre & Barlow 2009).




Sarah Hargus Ferguson, Ph.D., CCC-A

Assistant Professor

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

University of Utah




From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception [mailto:AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Leon van Noorden
Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2012 3:55 AM
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: The climb of absolute pitch


Hi Diana et al,


Diana, if I remember correctly, you have found that people's response, that a melodic interval of a tritone with Risset tones goes up or down, depends upon the relation between that interval with the basic frequency of their voice.


Wouldn't it be possible that people with absolute pitch have a similar relation with the basic frequency of their voice. If this would be the case than one has to assume that they could relearn this relation in the relatively quick transition that happens in puberty, but that they do not relearn it with the very gradual and minor change that happens during lifetime. 


I have the feeling that normally the basic frequency of your voice goes a bite down during lifetime, but I do not know about any systematic investigation of this effect. Does anybody have data on this?


In any case this could be a testable theory.


Kind regards,




On 30 Nov 2012, at 21:29, Diana Deutsch wrote:


Hi Leon et al,


It has indeed tended to go down for me, though not reliably so. The strange thing is that I still have this feeling of certainty when I name notes, even when I'm a semitone off. This makes me think that the effect is peripheral in origin, and that the central auditory system still interprets the information it receives correctly. There's a related phenomenon that occurs when people take carbamazepine (Tegretol). Those with absolute pitch hear a downward pitch shift that they generally describe as around a semitone. Its extent appears to increase  with increasing frequency in an orderly fashion over a six octave range. Braun and Chaloupa (Hearing Research, 2005, 210, 85-92) were able to plot this in a concert pianist with absolute pitch who  made judgments both under carbamazepine and under placebo.




Diana Deutsch




On Nov 30, 2012, at 1:25 AM, Leon van Noorden wrote:



So for the optimists it should go down.

I believe that Diana has found that in some cases indeed it goes down.

I my case it has gone up one step of the the scale. However, I am not a real pessimist.




On 30 Nov 2012, at 10:19, Brian Gygi wrote:

Maybe it's the world that has changed and not you - it got lower (i.e., darker, sadder)


Brian Gygi, Ph.D.


-----Original Message-----
From: Pierre Divenyi [mailto:pdivenyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 11:10 AM
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: The climb of absolute pitch



Several older persons who have had absolute pitch in their young years experience perceiving a pitch by at least a half-tone (minor second) higher than what it actually is ? a phenomenon that the French calls the "climb of the tuning fork" ("montee du diapason"). Since I am one of those unfortunate individuals, I have been wondering what its physiological explanation is. Can anyone on the list offer one?


-Pierre Divenyi