Role of Pitch Memory in Pitch Matching and Pitch Discrimination This study investigated the role of memory for pitch in pitch-matching ability and pitch-discrimination ability. Deutsch (1975) has proposed that pitch memory is a function of a specialized memory system. Participants performed three experimental tasks: pitch matching, pitch discrimination, and pitch discrimination with memory interference. In the pitch-matching task the ... Features
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Features  |   August 01, 2005
Role of Pitch Memory in Pitch Matching and Pitch Discrimination
Author Notes
  • Robert E. Moore, is assistant professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Contact him at rmoore@usouthal.edu.
    Robert E. Moore, is assistant professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Contact him at rmoore@usouthal.edu.×
  • Casie Keaton, is an audiologist in Savannah, GA. She received her master’s degree from the University of South Alabama in 2004. Contact her at casieallison@yahoo.com.
    Casie Keaton, is an audiologist in Savannah, GA. She received her master’s degree from the University of South Alabama in 2004. Contact her at casieallison@yahoo.com.×
  • Christopher Watts, is associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Contact him at wattscr@jmu.edu.
    Christopher Watts, is associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Contact him at wattscr@jmu.edu.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Features
Features   |   August 01, 2005
Role of Pitch Memory in Pitch Matching and Pitch Discrimination
The ASHA Leader, August 2005, Vol. 10, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.10102005.4
The ASHA Leader, August 2005, Vol. 10, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.10102005.4
This study investigated the role of memory for pitch in pitch-matching ability and pitch-discrimination ability. Deutsch (1975) has proposed that pitch memory is a function of a specialized memory system. Participants performed three experimental tasks: pitch matching, pitch discrimination, and pitch discrimination with memory interference.
In the pitch-matching task the participant heard a target tone (piano note) and attempted to vocally match the pitch of the target tone by producing “ah” for eight seconds. For the pitch-discrimination task, participants heard one of five reference tones that were followed by a target tone with a short silent period between the two tones. The frequencies of the reference tones ranged from 110 Hz to 220 Hz. For each reference tone, the target tone was either equal in frequency or differed from the target by +/- 75 cents. For each presentation, the participant indicated whether the reference tone was the same or different in pitch with respect to the target tone.
The stimuli for the pitch discrimination with memory interference task were the same as for the pitch discrimination task except that four brief interference tones were placed in the silent period between the reference and target tones. The task for the participants in the pitch discrimination with memory interference task was to indicate if the pitch of the first tone and last tone was the same or different.
There was a significant difference between pitch-discrimination ability with and without memory interference. This provides evidence that degrading pitch memory by interference has a significant effect on pitch-discrimination ability. Further, there was a significant correlation between pitch-matching ability and pitch-discrimination ability. Individuals who were good pitch discriminators tended to be good pitch matchers (and vice versa). This was in agreement with Watts et al. (2005).
The correlation between the pitch matching and pitch discrimination with memory interference was not significant. When there was interference with memory, pitch discrimination ability declined, and there was no longer a significant relationship between pitch discrimination and pitch matching.
It appears that one factor in one’s ability to discriminate (and therefore match) pitch is pitch memory. Previous research has indicated that individuals judged to have good singing voices are also good pitch matchers and pitch discriminators (Watts et al., 2005). Pitch memory may also be an important aspect of natural vocal talent.
References
Deutsch, D. (1975). Auditory memory. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 29, 87–105. [PubMed]
Deutsch, D. (1975). Auditory memory. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 29, 87–105. [PubMed]×
Watts, C., Moore, R., McCaughren, K., & Carr, M. (2005, in press). The relationship between vocal pitch matching skills and pitch discrimination skills in untrained accurate and inaccurate singers. Journal of Voice.
Watts, C., Moore, R., McCaughren, K., & Carr, M. (2005, in press). The relationship between vocal pitch matching skills and pitch discrimination skills in untrained accurate and inaccurate singers. Journal of Voice.×
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2005
Volume 10, Issue 10