Ten musicians were presented with a transposable melodic sequence of two monaural pure tones and were required to set the pitch of the higher tone in the sequence just above the upper limit of "musical" pitch. The overall mean of the frequency adjustments was 4.7 kHz, but subjects' individual means consistently differed from each other; their standard deviation was about three semitones. Subjects' adjustments depended on the range of possible adjustments and thus were influenced by context factors. However, the effect of range was 2.7 times smaller than it should have been if the upper limit of musical pitch had no perceptual reality. No consistent frequency differences were found between adjustments made for tones heard through the left ear and the right ear. However, in an additional study on six nonmusicians, one subject displayed a systematic interaural frequency difference amounting to about one semitone. Control measurements showed that this difference could not be explained by the subject's binaural diplacusis. Thus, as suggested by Bachem in 1937, it seems that the upper limit of musical pitch can be a different pitch for the two ears of the same subject.


First International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, Kyoto, Japan, October 1989.


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