The auditory fingerprint : multidimensional characterization of individual pitch perception in musicians

Benner, J 2018, The auditory fingerprint : multidimensional characterization of individual pitch perception in musicians , MSc by research thesis, University of Salford.

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Musicians have been repeatedly reported to show remarkable inter-individual differences in elementary hearing functions, sound perception mode, musical instrument preference, performance style, as well as musical abilities such as absolute- and relative pitch perception or auditory imagery (audiation). However, relevant literature in the field regarding perceptual and psychophysical aspects of sound and particularly pitch perception is highly contradictory, and subjective differences are mostly unconsidered. Moreover, it is largely unexplored how individual differences in (musical) pitch perception are related to further musical abilities and behavior.

In the present work, “auditory fingerprints” were created basically based on a composite of five psychoacoustic hearing tests assessing subjective pitch perception in musicians. A total of 93 musicians, including 49 professionals and 44 amateurs, were individually measured for: (a) pitch perception preference (holistic vs. spectral mode), (b) relative pitch perception (musical interval recognition), (c) absolute pitch perception („perfect pitch“), (d) frequency discrimination threshold (just noticeable difference), and (e) auditory imagery of tone-sequences. Overall, eight psychoacoustic parameters were extracted and analyzed using statistical methods. In addition, preferences for musical instruments were evaluated.

On the individual level, the results show a high inter-individual variability across the eight psychoacoustic parameters, reflecting clear individual differences in pitch perception and related musical abilities. In addition, principal component analysis (PCA) revealed four different main components to sufficiently represent coherent aspects of the psychoacoustic data, namely: tonal musicality, pitch & timbre preference, low-band sensitivity and high-band sensitivity.

On the group level, multi-parametric cluster analyses revealed three sub-groups of subjects, showing significantly different results with respect to the underlying perceptional patterns. Consequently, at least three different modes of pitch perception are suggested, characterized by: 1. Pronounced analytic pattern recognition, focused on spectra / timbre and sensitive to single tones; 2. Pronounced holistic pattern recognition, focused on (missing) fundamental pitch and rather insensitive to single tones; 3. Less pronounced audiation and pitch detection abilities, linked to ambiguous multi-pitch sensations (“balanced mode”).

Taken together, the findings suggest that individual “auditory fingerprints” extracted from psychoacoustic hearing tests, reflect remarkable inter-individual differences, but also typical patterns of perceiving (musical) pitch and sound. It can be concluded, that specific auditory characteristics are related to the individual musical (instrument) preference, style and performance of musicians, as well their learning abilities.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc by research)
Contributors: Davies, WJ (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Computing, Science and Engineering
Depositing User: Jan Benner
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2018 08:10
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 23:37

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