How does this sound? Differences in pitch processing between musicians and absolute pitch possessors

Lilach Akiva-Kabiri, TALI RAVEH, Gal Azaria, Avishai Henik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


According to the ratio effect, when the difference between two magnitudes is large, the comparison between them is faster. This effect complies with Weber's law and was found for many modalities such as numbers, brightness and musical tones. However, the ratio effect is elusive in ordinal scales (i.e., alphabet). Absolute pitch (AP) is a rare ability to identify musical pitches without an external reference tone; in general, most people use the relations between pitches (relative pitch) in order to process musical information. In the current study two groups of musicians (those with AP and controls without AP) were asked to compare pairs of musical tones that varied in their ratio. Results indicated a significant ratio effect only for the controls. Interestingly, AP possessors didn't show such an effect. Accordingly, we suggest that pitch tones can be represented on ordinal or cardinal scales, contingent on AP ability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFechner Day 2011
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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