Absolute-pitch possessors have been reported to identify black-key pitches less quickly and accurately than they identify white-key pitches. However, it is possible in these experiments that the greater speed of identifying white-compared with black-key pitches was due to a motor response bias because the motor requirements for indicating a black-key pitch were more difficult than those for indicating a white-key pitch. The greater accuracy in identifying white-compared with black-key pitches may have been due to a choice response bias favoring white-key pitch responses. We compared absolute- pitch judgments of black-and white-key pitches in a task free of motor response biases. Subjects compared the pitch of an auditory tone with a visually presented pitch name and responded Same or Different. The absolute- pitch possessors responded significantly more slowly to black- key auditory pitches, and to black- key visual pitch names, than to white-key pitches and pitch names. These differences may have been due to perceptual and retrieval processes associated with the frequencies with which black-and white-key pitches and pitch names occur in music literature. Another possible explanation is that absolute-pitch possessors may learn absolute pitch for only white-key pitches in development and may interpolate blackkey pitches from neighboring white-key pitches. Experiments to test these alternative accounts are proposed.

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