This study investigated the ability of normal-hearing listeners to process random sequences of tones varying in either pitch or loudness. Same/different judgments were collected for pairs of sequences with a variable length (up to eight elements) and built from only two different elements, which were 200-ms harmonic complex tones. The two possible elements of all sequences had a fixed level of discriminability, corresponding to a value of about 2, irrespective of the auditory dimension (pitch or loudness) along which they differed. This made it possible to assess sequence processing per se, independent of the accuracy of sound encoding. Pitch sequences were found to be processed more effectively than loudness sequences. However, that was the case only when the sequence elements included low-rank harmonics, which could be at least partially resolved in the auditory periphery. The effect of roving and transposition was also investigated. These manipulations reduced overall performance, especially transposition, but an advantage for pitch sequences was still observed. These results suggest that automatic frequency-shift detectors, available for pitch sequences but not loudness sequences, participate in the effective encoding of melodies.
Skip Nav Destination
December 14 2009
What makes a melody: The perceptual singularity of pitch sequences
Marion Cousineau, Laurent Demany, Daniel Pressnitzer; What makes a melody: The perceptual singularity of pitch sequences. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 December 2009; 126 (6): 3179–3187. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3257206
Download citation file: