Archives of Acoustics, 34, 4, pp. 429-443, 2009

The Domain of Pitch in Music

Fryderyk Chopin University of Music

The aim of this paper is to discuss some of the physical
and psycho-physiological mechanisms that contribute to transformation of the
unidimensional sensation pitch into the important medium where most significant
elements of music-communication code could develop. It is argued that pitch in
music should not be regarded as a simple, unidimensional sensation, but it
should be seen as a complex auditory system (PITCH DOMAIN) of four sensations,
two in the subdomain of PITCH VALUE (natural pitch and categorized pitch or a
system of pitch classes) and two in the subdomain PITCH DISTANCE (natural pitch
distance and a system of musical intervals). In such a multidimensional
structure pitch is particularly suited to overcoming the limitations of memory.
Another part of analysis concerns the role of short-term memory (STM) and
long-term memory (LTM) operating in relation with various forms of pitch. In
particular, an important role of STM for natural pitch is emphasized, in
maintaining the stability and coherence of any musical performance. In the
remaining parts of this paper the analysis concerns specific forms of the
auditory memory that contribute to the sensation of pitch distance, and problems
of psychological scaling of pitch.
Keywords: pitch domain; pitch value; pitch distance; natural and categorized pitch; short-term and long-term memory for pitch
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