Multiple coding strategies in the retention of musical tones by possessors of absolute pitch
Eighteen musicians with absolute pitch (AP) confirmed by screening tests participated in tonal and verbal short-term-retention tasks. In the tonal task, subjects identified three successive pi-ano tones by their letter names. Recall of these note names after 18 sec of counting backwards was near perfect. Recall after an 18-sec delay filled with random piano tones was also near per-fect. In contrast, the same subjects demonstrated significant forgetting when required to retain letter trigrams while counting backwards for 18 sec. These results were essentially replicated in a second experiment using longer (27 sec) retention intervals, a more demanding verbal inter-ference task, and an active musical interference task (singing a descending scale). We interpret these results as indicating that retention of note names by possessors of AP is not limited to ver-bal encoding; rather, multiple codes (e.g., auditory, kinesthetic, and visual imagery) are proba-bly used.
This research was supported in part by Operating Grant MA 9598 from the Medical Research Council of Canada to the first author. Very helpful suggestions regarding Experiment 2 were made by A. Samuel and G. Lockhead.
Bachem, A. (1937). Various types of absolute pitch.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,9, 146–151.CrossRef
Bachem, A. (1954). Time factors and absolute pitch determination.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,26, 751–753.CrossRef
Brown, J. (1958). Some tests of the decay theory of immediate memory.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,10, 12–21.CrossRef
Corsi, P. (1972).Human memory and the medial temporal region of the brain. Unpublished doctoral thesis, McGill University, Montreal.
Keppel, G., &Underwood, B. J. (1962). Proactive inhibition in short-term retention of single terms.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,1, 153–161.CrossRef
Lockhead, G. R., &Byrd, R. (1981). Practically perfect pitch.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,70, 387–389.CrossRef
Milner, B. (1978). Clues to the cerebral organization of memory. In P. Buser & A. Rougeul-Buser (Eds.),Cerebral correlates of conscious experience (INSERM Symposium No. 6, pp. 139–153). Amsterdam: Elsevier/North Holland.
Oakes, W. F. (1955). An experimental study of pitch naming and pitch discrimination reactions.Journal of Genetic Psychology,86, 237–259.PubMed
Siegel, J. A. (1972). The nature of absolute pitch. In I. E. Gordon (Ed.),Studies in the psychology of music (Vol. 8). Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.
Ward, W. D., &Burns, E. M. (1982). Absolute pitch. In D. Deutsch (Ed.),The psychology of music (pp. 431–451). New York: Academic Press.
Zatorre, R. J. (1983). Category-boundary effects and speeded sorting with a harmonic musical-interval continuum: Evidence for dual processing.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,9, 739–752.CrossRef
Zatorre, R. J. (in press). Intact absolute pitch ability after left temporal lobectomy.Cortex
- Multiple coding strategies in the retention of musical tones by possessors of absolute pitch
Memory & Cognition
Volume 17, Issue 5 , pp 582-589
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Industry Sectors