prior work indicates that listeners may be more likely to call a note in-tune when it is sung than when it is in another timbre. The current study seeks to confirm whether this vocal generosity effect generalizes to melodies. Musicians and nonmusicians listened to pairs of single tones and scale-based melodies performed with the voice or the violin. The final note was varied in how well it was tuned to the prior context, and for each example, listeners judged whether the final note was intune or not. A strong vocal generosity effect was found for musicians and nonmusicians in both melodic and single tone conditions – a higher degree of mistuning was necessary for listeners to decide that sung tones were out-of-tune compared with violin notes. These results confirm the role of timbre in tuning judgments, and help explain why singers are typically less well-tuned than instrumentalists in performance.

This content is only available via PDF.