Title page for ETD etd-06292012-093114

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Clark, Norman Alan
URN etd-06292012-093114
Title Direction of Mistuning, Magnitude of Cent Deviation, and Timbre as Factors in Musiciansí Pitch Discrimination in Simultaneous and Sequential Listening Conditions
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Byo, James L. Committee Chair
Beck, Steven D. Committee Member
Cassidy, Jane W. Committee Member
Orman, Evelyn Committee Member
Martins, Laura M. Dean's Representative
  • cents
  • timbre
  • listening condition
  • Music
  • intonation
  • mistuning
  • cent deviation
  • pitch
  • tuning
  • discrimination
  • perception
Date of Defense 2012-05-02
Availability unrestricted
The main purpose of this study was to investigate high school and college wind instrumentalistsí pitch discrimination when judging pitch pairs separated by 0, 5, 7.5, and 10 cents. Participants listened via headphones to a pre-recorded two section perception test; each section (one sequential and one simultaneous) containing 56 tone pairs. Each pair consisted of an in-tune reference tone followed by a test tone of the same pitch (B-flat4 or E4), which was either identical in tuning or altered to one of six mistunings. Tones also varied in timbre (square or sawtooth wave) with the reference and test tones being either the same or different in timbre. Participants circled on an answer sheet whether test tones were lower, the same, or higher than their paired reference tones.

The main effects of pitch, timbre, presentation order, and cent deviation were significant (p < .05). Participants were significantly more accurate identifying mistunings at the 10 and 7.5 cent levels than at the 5 and 0 cent levels. Responses were least accurate when stimuli were in-tune. Different timbre pairs resulted in more correct responses than same timbre pairs and participants correctly identified the tunings and mistunings for the B-flat pitch pairs significantly more often than the E pitch pairs. Simultaneously presented pairs resulted in more accurate responses than sequentially presented pairs. University students responded more accurately than high school students at all levels of mistuning.

In the timbre and cent deviation interaction, the different timbre pairs were correctly identified at a higher rate than were the same timbre pairs, except at 0 cent deviation where the reverse occurred. The pitch by cent deviation interaction produced the largest effect size of all (partial ƞ2 = .66). Participants responded more accurately to E when it was flat than when it was sharp and more accurately to B-flat when it was sharp than when it was flat, a finding that is inconsistent with listenersí general tendency to discriminate flat better than sharp in previous research.

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