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Sensitivity to tonality across the piano range

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:08 authored by Frank A Russo, Lola L Cuddy, Alexander Galembo, William F Thompson

Striking changes in sensitivity to tonality across the pitch range are reported. Participantswere presented a key-defining context (do-mi-do-sol) followed by one of the 12 chromatic tonesof the octave, and rated the goodness of fit of the probe tone to the context. The set of ratings,called the probe-tone profile, was compared to an established standardised profile for the Westerntonal hierarchy. The presentation of context and probe tones at low and high pitch registersresulted in significantly reduced sensitivity to tonality. Sensitivity was especially poor for presen-tations in the lowest octaves where inharmonicity levels were substantially above the thresholdfor detection. We propose that sensitivity to tonality may be influenced by pitch salience (or aco-varying factor such as exposure to pitch distributional information) as well as suprathresholdinharmonicity. 

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