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Title:An Investigation Into Pitch Identification Behavior of Absolute Pitch and Relative Pitch Subjects
Author(s):Barkowsky, John J.
Department / Program:Education
Discipline:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Health Sciences, Audiology
Psychology, Psychobiology
Education, Music
Abstract:The purpose of the study was to determine the nature of the difference between absolute pitch and relative pitch: Is the difference one of degree, or do absolute pitch and relative pitch represent two autonomous traits?
Ten absolute pitch possessors and a cross section of 120 music students were administered a prerecorded listening test. The task was to assign chromatic pitch names to individual musical pitches. The pitches in the test were of different duration (1 second, 3 seconds), performed on different instruments (piano, French horn, oboe), and there was either 2 seconds or 5 seconds intermission between two sequent pitches. Musical excerpts were interspersed for tonal reference. The listening test also contained two-tone motives, which had to be identified and remembered after 3 minutes of interference tasks, and it contained pitches whose octave position had to be determined.
There were eight parameters incorporated in the listening test: (1) pitch duration, (2) response time, (3) timbre, (4) musical distance of pitches to the context tonic, (5) availability of a reference tonality, (6) key quality of the reference tonality, (7) octave recognition, and (8) tonal memory.
The absolute pitch possessors correctly named 85 percent of the pitches of the listening test, while the relative pitch possessors correctly named 10 percent--scantly above chance level. Absolute pitch possessors performed better when the response time was shorter, relative pitch possessors performed better when response time was longer. Relative pitch subjects identified musically close pitches better than musically distant ones and were more successful at pitch naming when the reference tonality was common than when it was uncommon. Neither of these two effects were observable for the absolute pitch subjects. Differences in the hearing mechanism of absolute pitch and relative pitch subjects were concluded.
The study contributes evidence about the parameters involved in pitch judgments. Understanding the parameters is necessary for effective eartraining.
Issue Date:1987
Type:Text
Description:127 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/69114
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721581
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987


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