Absolute pitch (AP) is the ability to identify or produce pitches of musical tones without an external reference. Active AP (i.e., pitch production or pitch adjustment) and passive AP (i.e., pitch identification) are considered to not necessarily coincide, although no study has properly compared these abilities. Using a novel computerized pitch adjustment test, we investigated active AP ability in musicians with and without AP (ages 18-43). We found a significant correlation between active and passive AP indicating that AP possessors (APs) identify and produce pitch equally well. Furthermore, we found that APs generally undershoot when adjusting musical pitch, a tendency that decreases when musical activity increases. Finally, APs are less accurate when adjusting the pitch to black key targets than to white key targets. Hence, AP ability may be partly practice-dependent and we speculate that APs may benefit from frequent contact with fixed standard chroma to keep in tune.
- Received July 12, 2012.
- Accepted September 7, 2013.
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