Three experiments on absolute- pitch identification were performed to examine how quickly and accurately subjects with absolute pitch could respond to different pitch classes. Sixty different pitches in a five-octave range were tested. Subjects with absolute pitch tried to identify the tones as rapidly as possible by pressing corresponding keys on a musical keyboard or a numerical keypad, or by naming vocally. Converging evidence was obtained indicating that the speed and accuracy of responses were directly related. In general, responses to the white-key notes on the musical keyboard were faster and more accurate than those to the black-key notes, C and G being most quickly and accurately identified. This seems to reflect the differential accessibility of pitch classes in the long-term memory of the absolute-pitch possessors, which may be interpreted as a consequence of the acquisition process of absolute pitch in early life.


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


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