Archives of Acoustics, 36, 2, pp. 251–266, 2011

Absolute Pitch and Its Frequency Range

The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music

The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music

This paper has two distinct parts. Section 1 includes general discussion of the
phenomenon of “absolute pitch” (AP), and presentation of various concepts concerning
definitions of “full”, “partial” and “pseudo” AP. Sections 2–4 include presentation
of the experiment concerning frequency range in which absolute pitch appears, and
discussion of the experimental results. The experiment was performed with participation
of 9 AP experts selected from the population of 250 music students as best
scoring in the pitch-naming piano-tone screening tests. Each subject had to recognize
chromas of 108 pure tones representing the chromatic musical scale of nine
octaves from E0 to D#9. The series of 108 tones was presented to each subject 60
times in random order, diotically, with loudness level about 65 phon. Percentage
of correct recognitions (PC) for each tone was computed. The frequency range for
the existence of absolute pitch in pure tones, perceived by sensitive AP possessors
stretches usually over 5 octaves from about 130.6 Hz (C3) to about 3.951 Hz (B7).
However, it was noted that in a single case, the upper boundary of AP was 9.397 Hz
(D9). The split-halves method was applied to estimate the reliability of the obtained
Keywords: auditory memory; pitch; absolute pitch
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