Dial A440 for absolute pitch: Absolute pitch memory by non-absolute pitch possessors

Nicholas A. Smith, Mark A. Schmuckler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Listeners without absolute (or "perfect") pitch have difficulty identifying or producing isolated musical pitches from memory. Instead, they process the relative pattern of pitches, which remains invariant across pitch transposition. Musically untrained non-absolute pitch possessors demonstrated absolute pitch memory for the telephone dial tone, a stimulus that is always heard at the same absolute frequency. Listeners accurately classified pitch-shifted versions of the dial tone as "normal," "higher than normal" or "lower than normal." However, the role of relative pitch processing was also evident, in that listeners' pitch judgments were also sensitive to the frequency range of stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)EL77-EL84
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 14 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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