Graduation Year

2015

Location

Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

12-4-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

12-4-2014 10:00 AM

Description

A musician’s awareness of intonation (i.e. “being in tune”) is an important skill. While musicians are highly sensitive to “out of tune” notes, research suggests that this sensitivity is categorical rather than absolute (Siegel & Siegel, 1977). If intonation is heard “categorically,” musicians’ classification of intonation errors (both magnitude and direction), would be expected to be poor. This experiment was designed to determine whether or not musicians could categorically perceive mistuned musical intervals, as well as to investigate the relative limits of absolute intonation perception. Ten undergraduate music students were tested on their ability to identify intonation errors within an 3AFC paradigm. The results found that while participants were able to identify mistuned intervals, they struggled to correctly identify the directionality of these intonation errors. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that musicians perceive intonation “categorically,” and more specifically, that they struggle to hear the difference between sharp and flat intervals.

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Music Commons

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 10:00 AM

Can Musicians Tell Sharp From Flat?

Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

A musician’s awareness of intonation (i.e. “being in tune”) is an important skill. While musicians are highly sensitive to “out of tune” notes, research suggests that this sensitivity is categorical rather than absolute (Siegel & Siegel, 1977). If intonation is heard “categorically,” musicians’ classification of intonation errors (both magnitude and direction), would be expected to be poor. This experiment was designed to determine whether or not musicians could categorically perceive mistuned musical intervals, as well as to investigate the relative limits of absolute intonation perception. Ten undergraduate music students were tested on their ability to identify intonation errors within an 3AFC paradigm. The results found that while participants were able to identify mistuned intervals, they struggled to correctly identify the directionality of these intonation errors. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that musicians perceive intonation “categorically,” and more specifically, that they struggle to hear the difference between sharp and flat intervals.