Pitch chroma information is processed in addition to pitch height information with more than two pitch range categories

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  • Octave equivalence describes the perception that notes separated by a doubling in frequency sound similar. While the octave is used cross-culturally as a basis of pitch perception, experimental demonstration of the phenomenon has proved to be difficult. In past work, members of our group developed a three-range generalization paradigm that reliably demonstrated octave equivalence. In this study we replicate and expand on this previous work trying to answer three questions that help us understand the origins and potential cross-cultural significance of octave equivalence: (1) whether training with three ranges is strictly necessary or whether an easier-to-learn two-range task would be sufficient, (2) whether the task could demonstrate octave equivalence beyond neighbouring octaves, and (3) whether language skills and musical education impact the use of octave equivalence in this task. We conducted a large-sample study using variations of the original paradigm to answer these questions. Results found here suggest that the three-range discrimination task is indeed vital to demonstrating octave equivalence. In a two-range task, pitch height appears to be dominant over octave equivalence. Octave equivalence has an effect only when pitch height alone is not sufficient. Results also suggest that effects of octave equivalence are strongest between neighbouring octaves and that tonal language and musical training have a positive effect on learning of discriminations but not on perception of octave equivalence during testing. We discuss these results considering their relevance to future research and to ongoing debates about the basis of octave equivalence perception.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International