Up-down pitch perception (KEVIN AUSTIN )

Subject: Up-down pitch perception
Date:    Thu, 3 Jun 1999 07:06:23 -0400

Thank you for the summary of responses. Most interesting. My comments here must be classed as purely anecdotal based only on several years of teaching "traditional" ear-training in a liberal arts type music program. There are few requirements for students to enter the fundamentals level of the ear-training courses, so while the population is not "general", it is not restricted by stringent pre-testing (as would be found in a Faculty of Music). I have found that up to about 10% of students in my courses, at some time (and sometimes regularly), demonstrate up/down discrimination difficulties. The circumstances can either be intervals played in isolation, or within melodic passages. Since my findings are shown in the form of 'writing' rather than 'asking' which is higher (and given that the students are spending 10 or more hours per week studying music), I have come to accept that up-down pitch perception is a serious problem, sometimes, for some students (and is a complex matter). When the students have asked 'why this is so' (since they recognize that they appear to lack this type of judgement sometimes, I try to explain it with the use of the 'qpdb' effect (as I call it). [How can you tell 'p' from 'q'? The 'p' has the line going 'down' on the 'left'. How can I tell right from left? .... I keep my wallet in my right pocket ;) ]. It has also been my (undocumented) experience that there are multiple factors in play here: the first step is determining that two elements are different; next, in what way are they different; and which is which? [The same problem exists with faces, or with determining whether a piano tone is real or synthetic, from my experience.] It is also my experience that many people 'from the general population' hear sound the way color is perceived as an un-categorized continuum ... so which "is" higher, red or green? (except in traffic lights). (And this flows into the 'real world' problem of pitch related, eg, to organ stops, esp "mixtures" (and Sheperd's tones in ea/cm) ... but that is a little beyond the scope of this thread.) Again, thanks for the summary. Best Kevin kaustin(at)vax2.concordia.ca And a recent question from another list ... 8-() !! Is "psychoacoustic facts" an oxymoron? TIA

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Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University