National differences in the tritone paradox (at)

Subject: National differences in the tritone paradox
Date:    Tue, 26 Oct 1993 16:59:38 -0400

Dear colleagues: In a 1991 paper in MUSIC PERCEPTION, Diana Deutsch reported a striking difference between Californian and Southern British listeners in the perception of the "tritone paradox", i.e., the relative pitch height of pairs of Shepard tones 6 semitones apart. I have recently replicated this finding, at least in part: On one of two different sets of Shepard tones I employed, American subjects (from various regions of the USA) gave different results than Southern British subjects. Deutsch has hypothesized that this difference may be due to differential language experience, implying that British and American speakers use different pitch ranges of the speaking voice. While this possibility needs to be explored further (and it is the only hypothesis that has been proposed so far), I would like to ask you (1) whether you are aware of any other observations about differences between Americans and English(wo)men, or between any other two nationalities or regional groups, in pitch perception or auditory processing of complex tones, and (2) whether you can think of any explanations of such differences that do not appeal to language experience. Your comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Sincerely, Bruno H. Repp Haskins Laboratories e-mail: repp(at)yalehask.bitnet

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Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University