Virtual Pitch Extraction from Harmonic Structures by Absolute Pitch Musicians1


The ability of absolute pitch (AP) musicians to identify or produce virtual pitch from harmonic structures without feedback or an external acoustic referent was examined in three experiments. Stimuli con sisted of pure tones, missing fundamental harmonic complexes, or piano notes highpass filtered to remove their fundamental frequency and lower harmonics. Results of Experiment I showed that relative to control (non AP) musicians, AP subjects easily (>90%) identified pitch of harmonic complexes in a 12 alternative forced choice task. Increasing harmonic order (i.e., lowest harmonic number in the complex), however, resulted in a monotonic decline in performance. Results suggest that AP musicians use two pitch cues from harmonic structures: 1) spectral spacing between harmonic components, and 2) octave related cues to note identification in individually resolved harmonics. Results of Experiment II showed that highpass filtered piano notes are identified by AP subjects at better than 75% accuracy even when the note’s energy is confined to the 4th and higher harmonics. Identification of highpass piano notes also appears to be better than that expected from pure or complex tones, possibly due to contributions from familiar timbre cues to note identity. Results of Experiment III showed that AP subjects can adjust the spectral spacing between harmonics of a missing fundamental complex to accurately match the expected spacing from a target musical note. Impli cations of these findings for mechanisms of AP encoding are discussed. PACS numbers: 43.66.Fe, 43.66.Hg, 43.75.Cd DOI: 10.1134/S1063771009020134 ACOUSTIC SIGNAL PROCESSING AND COMPUTER SIMULATION 1 The text was submitted by the authors in English.

5 Figures and Tables

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Hsieh2009VirtualPE, title={Virtual Pitch Extraction from Harmonic Structures by Absolute Pitch Musicians1}, author={I-Hui Hsieh and Kourosh Saberi}, year={2009} }