In the tritone paradox, two tones are presented that are related by a halfoctave. Each tone consists of a set of octave-related sinusoids whose amplitudes are scaled by a bell-shaped spectral envelope; thus the usual cues to height attribution are missing. When listeners judge whether such tone pairs form ascending or descending patterns, judgments are related in an orderly fashion to the positions of the tones along the pitch class circle: Tones in one region of the circle are heard as higher and those in the opposite region as lower. However, listeners differ strikingly in the orientation of the pitch-class circle with respect to height. So far, the basis of the tritone paradox and the reasons for the individual differences in its manifestation have proved elusive. In the present study, a correlation is found between perception of the tritone paradox and the range of fundamental frequencies of the listener's speaking voice. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a close connection between the perception of a musical pattern on the one hand and the listener's speech characteristics on the other.


D. Deutsch, T. North, and L. Ray (1989).
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Suppl. 1 86, S17.


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