Re: Motor theory of absolute pitch (Pierre Divenyi )

Subject: Re: Motor theory of absolute pitch
From:    Pierre Divenyi  <pdivenyi(at)MARVA4.NCSC.MED.VA.GOV>
Date:    Wed, 9 May 2001 12:35:56 -0700

Dix Ward's and Ed Burns's study showed that auditory feedback was necessary for producing a melodic sequence even as simple as an ascending scale. The AP issue was secondary -- if you are off by a third when you want to sing a note in a scale, it is pretty irrelevant whether you hit the first note right or not. Pierre Divenyi =================== At 03:13 PM 5/9/01 -0400, Daniel Levitin wrote: >Rebecca and others have suggested that absolute pitch may rely to >some degree on muscle memory. I have two comments. > >First, I believe that absolute pitch is of interest because it >putatively involves some sort of unusual/special memory ability. It >appears that possessors have stable long-term representations of >musical pitch, and they are able to categorize or label these >representations with linguistic labels. If AP is subserved by >muscle-memory, that doesn't make it any less interesting it seems to >me -- we are simply specifying the type of memory that is involved, >but it is still a feat of memory. > >Second, and more relevant, the late Dixon Ward and Ed Burns conducted >a study that addresses this issue head on. Ward and Burns (1978) >denied auditory feedback to trained singers who possessed absolute >pitch (forcing them to rely solely on muscle memory); the singers >erred by as much as a minor third, or three semitones. Thus muscle >memory was only enough to get them in the ball park, and did not >account for their AP ability. > > >Ward, W. D. & Burns, E. M. (1978) . Singing without auditory >feedback. Journal of Research in Singing and Applied Vocal Pedagogy, >1(2), 24-44 > > > >Dan Levitin **************************************************************************** Pierre Divenyi, Ph.D. Speech and Hearing Research (151) V.A. Medical Center, Martinez, CA 94553, USA Phone: (925) 370-6745 Fax: (925) 228-5738 E-mail : pdivenyi(at) ****************************************************************************

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Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University