Soderquist (Psychonomic Science, 1970, 21,117–119) found that musicians were better than nonmusicians at separating out ("hearing out") partials from complex tones and proposed that this might be explained by the musicians having sharper auditory filters. In Experiment 1, the auditory filters of two groups, musicians and nonmusicians, were measured at three center frequencies by using a notched-noise masker. The filters were found not to differ in bandwidth between the two groups. However, the efficiency of the detection process after auditory filtering was significantly different between the two groups: the musicians were more efficient. In Experiment 2, the ability to hear out partials in a complex inharmonic tone was measured for the same two groups, using a tone produced by "stretching" the spacing between partials in a harmonic complex tone. Unfortunately, most of the nonmusicians were unable to perform this task. The ability of the musicians to hear out partials was not significantly correlated with the auditory filter bandwidths measured in Experiment 1. The musicians were also tested on the original harmonic complex tone (before "stretching"). For some partials, their performance was better for the inharmonic tone, reflecting the fact that the separation of the partials in frequency was greater for that tone. However, it was also found that those partials that were octaves of the fundamental in the harmonic series were identified better than corresponding partials in the inharmonic tone.

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