Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 414–423 | Cite as

Absolute memory for musical pitch: Evidence from the production of learned melodies

  • Daniel J. LevitinEmail author


Evidence for the absolute nature of long-term auditory memory is provided by analyzing the production of familiar melodies. Additionally, a two-component theory of absolute pitch is presented, in which this rare ability is conceived as consisting of a more common ability,pitch memory, and a separate, less common ability,pitch labeling. Forty-six subjects sang two different popular songs, and their productions were compared with the actual pitches used in recordings of those songs. Forty percent of the subjects sang the correct pitch on at least one trial; 12% of the subjects hit the correct pitch on both trials, and 44% came within two semitones of the correct pitch on both trials. The results show a convergence with previous studies on the stability of auditory imagery and latent absolute pitch ability; the results further suggest that individuals might possess representations of pitch that are more stable and accurate than previously recognized.


Acoustical Society ofAmerica Music Perception Absolute Pitch Target Tone Auditory Imagery 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OregonEugene

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