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ItemThe musical environment and auditory plasticity: hearing the pitch of percussionMcLachlan, NM ; Marco, DJT ; Wilson, SJ (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2013-10-24)Although musical skills clearly improve with training, pitch processing has generally been believed to be biologically determined by the behavior of brain stem neural mechanisms. Two main classes of pitch models have emerged over the last 50 years. Harmonic template models have been used to explain cross-channel integration of frequency information, and waveform periodicity models have been used to explain pitch discrimination that is much finer than the resolution of the auditory nerve. It has been proposed that harmonic templates are learnt from repeated exposure to voice, and so it may also be possible to learn inharmonic templates from repeated exposure to inharmonic music instruments. This study investigated whether pitch-matching accuracy for inharmonic percussion instruments was better in people who have trained on these instruments and could reliably recognize their timbre. We found that adults who had trained with Indonesian gamelan instruments were better at recognizing and pitch-matching gamelan instruments than people with similar levels of music training, but no prior exposure to these instruments. These findings suggest that gamelan musicians were able to use inharmonic templates to support accurate pitch processing for these instruments. We suggest that recognition mechanisms based on spectrotemporal patterns of afferent auditory excitation in the early stages of pitch processing allow rapid priming of the lowest frequency partial of inharmonic timbres, explaining how music training can adapt pitch processing to different musical genres and instruments.
ItemPitch and Plasticity: Insights from the Pitch Matching of Chords by Musicians with Absolute and Relative PitchMcLachlan, NM ; Marco, DJT ; Wilson, SJ (MDPI, 2013-12-01)Absolute pitch (AP) is a form of sound recognition in which musical note names are associated with discrete musical pitch categories. The accuracy of pitch matching by non-AP musicians for chords has recently been shown to depend on stimulus familiarity, pointing to a role of spectral recognition mechanisms in the early stages of pitch processing. Here we show that pitch matching accuracy by AP musicians was also dependent on their familiarity with the chord stimulus. This suggests that the pitch matching abilities of both AP and non-AP musicians for concurrently presented pitches are dependent on initial recognition of the chord. The dual mechanism model of pitch perception previously proposed by the authors suggests that spectral processing associated with sound recognition primes waveform processing to extract stimulus periodicity and refine pitch perception. The findings presented in this paper are consistent with the dual mechanism model of pitch, and in the case of AP musicians, the formation of nominal pitch categories based on both spectral and periodicity information.
ItemPitch Enumeration: Failure to Subitize in AuditionMcLachlan, NM ; Marco, DJT ; Wilson, SJ ; Samuel, A (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-04-02)BACKGROUND: Subitizing involves recognition mechanisms that allow effortless enumeration of up to four visual objects, however despite ample resolution experimental data suggest that only one pitch can be reliably enumerated. This may be due to the grouping of tones according to harmonic relationships by recognition mechanisms prior to fine pitch processing. Poorer frequency resolution of auditory information available to recognition mechanisms may lead to unrelated tones being grouped, resulting in underestimation of pitch number. METHODS, RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: We tested whether pitch enumeration is better for chords of full harmonic complex tones, where grouping errors are less likely, than for complexes with fewer and less accurately tuned harmonics. Chords of low familiarity were used to mitigate the possibility that participants would recognize the chord itself and simply recall the number of pitches. We found that accuracy of pitch enumeration was less than the visual system overall, and underestimation of pitch number increased for stimuli containing fewer harmonics. We conclude that harmonically related tones are first grouped at the poorer frequency resolution of the auditory nerve, leading to poor enumeration of more than one pitch.