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date: 20 October 2019

Absolute pitchlocked

  • Richard Parncutt
  •  and Daniel J. Levitin


The ability either to identify the chroma (pitch class) of any isolated tone, using labels such as C, 261 Hz or do (‘passive’ absolute pitch), or to reproduce a specified chroma – for example, by singing or adjusting the frequency of a tone generator – without reference to an external standard (‘active’ absolute pitch (AP): Bachem, 1937; Baggaley, 1974; Ward, 1982). Both skills may be called ‘tone-AP’. Absolute pitch may also involve recognizing whether a familiar piece is played in the correct key (passive), or singing a familiar song in the correct key (active); this skill is known as ‘piece-AP’.

Cognitively, both tone- and piece-AP involve two separate sub-skills: long-term pitch memory and an appropriate form of linguistic coding for attaching labels to stimuli (Levitin, 1994). True tone-AP requires individual internal pitch standards for all 12 chroma. This template can shift with age by as much as two semitones (Vernon, ...

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Journal of Research in Music Education
Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America