Representation of Pitch in Horizontal Space and Its Dependence on Musical and Instrumental Experience

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Abstract

Representation of pitch in horizontal space and its relationship to musical and instrumental experience was examined in 3 behavioral experiments. Each experiment investigated the influence of a task-irrelevant dimension (pitch or location) on the perception of a task-relevant dimension (location or pitch, respectively). Sine tones with 9 different pitches were presented from 9 locations, and participants estimated the pitch or location of the stimuli. Experiment 1 showed an influence of the (task irrelevant) pitch of presented stimuli on the perceived location of the stimuli in musically experienced participants only. This influence increased with the degree of musical training of participants. No influence was found of presented location on the perception of pitch. Experiments 2 and 3 investigated the influence of instrumental expertise comparing the responses of a group of flutists with a group of pianists. An interaction with instrumental expertise was found only in Experiment 3, where participants played shortly on their respective instruments before making the perceptual judgments. The experiments indicate that musical training in general influence the pitch–location association, and pianistic experience in particular.

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