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Home Activities Student Colloquia Music Cognition Third session of the Music Perception and Cognition Student Colloquium series

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Third session of the Music Perception and Cognition Student Colloquium series

Patrick Bermudez will present some of his work on absolute pitch and Mikaela Miller will talk about perceptual issues concerning 12- and 31-tone equal temperament tuning systems. Each talk will last about 30 minutes and will be followed by a 15-minute question period.

  • Music Perception and Cognition Student Colloquium
When Feb 11, 2010
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where BRAMS, 1430, boul. du Mont-Royal (Outremont), room 0-368 (also known as "The Classroom"), 4:30-6:00pm
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1. Patrick Bermudez

The unusual ability of absolute pitch (AP) affords us the opportunity to study a circumscribed behaviour which can be clearly operationalized and requires complex cognitive function in its execution. It serves as a model for a number of perceptual and mnemonic functions as well as
developmental interactions between biological predispositions and specific training. I will describe a few efforts made in characterizing its neural substrates and discuss a possible shift in the definition and understanding of the ability following recent findings.


2. Mikaela Miller

Trained musicians posses greater pitch discrimination ability (Burns & Ward, 1978), but are more prone to perceive frequency intervals categorically (Siegel & Siegel, 1977; Krumhansl, 2000). At what point, then, do musicians stop perceiving intervals categorically and begin hearing something new? The current study examines the ability of trained musicians to discriminate between short musical excerpts in 12-tone equal temperament (12-TET) and 31-tone equal temperament (31-TET). The musical stimuli for this experiment were composed by the 16th=century Italian composer and theorist Nicola Vicentino, who developed a 31-TET tuning system in his treatise Ancient Music Adapted to Modern Practice (1555). The excerpts were recorded and manipulated with audio-editing software to produce 12-TET and 31-TET versions of the same pieces of music. A pilot study was conducted using these stimuli, and results provide evidence that trained listeners may not always perceive the differences in interval sizes inherent to each tuning system.

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