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Pitch-Matching Accuracy in Trained Singers and

Untrained Individuals: The Impact of Musical


Interference and Noise
Julie M. Estis, Ashli Dean-Claytor, Robert E. Moore, and Thomas L. Rowell, Mobile, Alabama
Summary: The effects of musical interference and noise on pitch-matching accuracy were examined. Vocal training
was explored as a factor influencing pitch-matching accuracy, and the relationship between pitch matching and pitch
discrimination was examined. Twenty trained singers (TS) and 20 untrained individuals (UT) vocally matched tones
in six conditions (immediate, four types of chords, noise). Fundamental frequencies were calculated, compared with
the frequency of the target tone, and converted to semitone difference scores. A pitch discrimination task was also completed. TS showed significantly better pitch matching than UT across all conditions. Individual performances for UT
were highly variable. Therefore, untrained participants were divided into two groups: 10 untrained accurate and 10 untrained inaccurate. Comparison of TS with untrained accurate individuals revealed significant differences between
groups and across conditions. Compared with immediate vocal matching of target tones, pitch-matching accuracy
was significantly reduced, given musical chord and noise interference unless the target tone was presented in the musical
chord. A direct relationship between pitch matching and pitch discrimination was revealed. Across pitch-matching conditions, TS were consistently more accurate than UT. Pitch-matching accuracy diminished when auditory interference
consisted of chords that did not contain the target tone and noise.
Key Words: Pitch matchingPitch discriminationPitch memoryMusical interferenceSingers.

INTRODUCTION
Singing is a complex process, using the respiratory, phonatory,
resonatory, articulatory, and auditory systems to create melodious vocal tones. In the general population, there is a significant
variation in singing ability. Individuals may be classified as accurate singers or inaccurate singers. To sing accurately, individuals must first be able to accurately hear, differentiate, store,
and then vocally reproduce pitches. Inaccurate singers, or
monotones, may have difficulty with these abilities.1 Thus,
pitch discrimination and pitch-matching tasks may be useful
in understanding factors that differentiate accurate singers
from those who are unable to sing accurately. Trained musicians and singers perform more accurately on pitch discrimination and pitch-matching tasks than most untrained individuals
(UT).24 Research suggests reliance on working memory during pitch discrimination tasks.57 Adding time delays between
tones,8 presenting tonal interference between the reference
tone and comparison tone,6,9 and using tones of differing timbre10,11 negatively affect pitch discrimination accuracy.
In addition to discriminating between two individual pitches,
individuals also determine differences between combinations
of pitches. Hubbard12 investigated the ability to discriminate
major triad chords in different positions (ie, tonic, first inversion, and others). A chord is the simultaneous sounding of
more than two notes at a time. A triad consists of three specific
notes sounded simultaneously. It is considered to be in root position when all of the intervals between the notes are in thirds,
Accepted for publication October 23, 2009.
From the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, College of Allied Health
Professions, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Julie M. Estis, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, College of Allied Health Professions, HAHN
1119, 307 N. University Blvd., Mobile, AL 36688-0002. E-mail: jestis@usouthal.edu
Journal of Voice, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 173-180
0892-1997/$36.00
2011 The Voice Foundation
doi:10.1016/j.jvoice.2009.10.010

with the bottom note being the tonic note, or root, of the major
or minor scale on which it is based (eg, a C major chord consists
of the notes middle C, E, and G). Conversely, it is said to be an
inversion when the bottom note of the chord is either the third or
fifth of the triad (eg, the first inversion of a C major chord consists of the notes E [third], G [fifth], and C [tonic]). The stimulus
triads were simple major triads, so that people could participate
in the study, regardless of musical training. All participants
were considered untrained. Participants were asked to determine whether or not two sequentially presented target chords
were the same or different. Results of the study indicated that
listeners could accurately discriminate chords based on the
same root note. Hence, whether or not the chord was in root position, or inverted, the participants could tell if the chords were
the same, or different, harmonically. These results imply that
the ability to discriminate among the triads is based on cognitive processes rather than on perception of harmonics alone
or on previous musical training.
Most research investigating pitch processing and pitch
memory has focused on pitch discrimination tasks. Although
findings from pitch discrimination tasks may be implied for
pitch-matching abilities, it is necessary to systematically and
directly study pitch-matching abilities in a variety of populations
and with varied types of stimuli and interference to understand
the relationship between pitch processing and vocal production
of pitch. Thus, many aspects of pitch matching remain uncertain.
The known prerequisites for accurate pitch matching include
accurate pitch discrimination skills, normal auditory functioning, and good control of the vocal mechanism.11 Auditory feedback has also been shown to play an important part in accurate
pitch matching, particularly for trained and professional
singers.13 Much like pitch discrimination, pitch-matching skills
are also known to vary across populations (eg, TS vs UT).
Estis et al14 investigated pitch memory in a pitch-matching
task, specifically exploring the role of time delays on pitch-

174
matching ability. Results of the study indicated decreased pitchmatching accuracy with increasing time intervals of silence (5,
15, and 25 seconds) between the presentation of target tones and
vocal pitch-matching productions. Also, this study indicated
that some individuals with no formal vocal training performed
as well as vocally trained individuals, whereas a subset of UT
performed poorly on all pitch-matching tasks.
It remains to be determined which types of interference (eg,
time, vocal tones, pure tones, chords, and others) are most detrimental to pitch-matching performance. In addition, there has
been evidence to suggest a relationship between abilities in
pitch discrimination and pitch matching; however, research in
this area has resulted in mixed findings based on the populations
studied and the tasks used to measure pitch discrimination performance.3,6,11 Therefore, the purpose of the present investigation was to determine the effects of different types of auditory
interference between stimuli and vocal match productions on
pitch matching in males and females as well as to further investigate the relationship between pitch discrimination and pitchmatching abilities. This study also investigated the relationship
between vocal training and pitch-matching abilities with various types of interference, by including two groups of participants: trained singers (TS) and UT. The different types of
interference were musical chords of varying relation to the target tones and pink noise. If tonal information and speech information are held within specialized mechanisms in working
memory, then chords, particularly ones that are less related to
the target, should be detrimental to pitch memory and ultimately pitch matching. The following research questions
were addressed:
1. Are there differences in pitch-matching accuracy given
various types of interferences (musical chords with target
in root position, musical chords with the root a perfect
fourth away from the target, musical chords with the
root a major second away from the target, unrelated minor second chords an octave away, and pink noise) among
TS and UT?
2. Is there a relationship between the ability to discriminate
between pitches and the ability to match pitches?
METHODS
Participants
The participants were 20 females and 20 males between the
ages of 19 and 32 years (mean [M] 23.05, standard deviation
[SD] 3.08). All participants were native speakers of English;
had no significant history of voice pathology or voice treatment;
demonstrated adequate vocal function as evidenced by jitter
(frequency perturbation), shimmer (amplitude perturbation),
and noise-to-harmonic ratio (amount of noise in the signal)
within one SD of the mean, as calculated by Multi-Dimensional
Voice Profile-Advanced (MDVP-A) voicing analysis software
version 2.7.0 and compared with MDVP-A database means
and SDs; and passed an audiometric hearing screening. Participants were divided into two groups based on vocal training.
Twenty participants were TS. Participants in the TS group
had a minimum of 3 years of individual voice training and at

Journal of Voice, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2011

least 1 year of collegiate musical theory. The remaining 20 participants were UT who had no individual training from a professional vocal instructor.
Stimuli
For all pitch-matching tasks, stimuli were complex tones with
the following fundamental frequencies: 262 (C4), 294 (D4),
330 (E4), 348 (F4), and 392 Hz (G4) for female participants;
and 131 (C3), 147 (D3), 164 (E3), 175 (F3), and 196 Hz (G3)
for male participants. These frequencies were chosen because
they are within the normal singing range of females and males
in the third and fourth octaves of the musical scale. Tones and
chords were generated using a Yamaha Portable Grand keyboard (model YPG-625; Buena Park, CA) on a piano setting.
The stimuli were then recorded and saved onto a computer as
WAV files. Stimuli were edited with Adobe Audition (version
1.5) such that each tone had a duration of 1.5 seconds and
was gated on and off with 10-millisecond linear ramps.
Stimuli for the five interference conditions were created for
each target note (Table 1). For the five interference conditions,
there was a 1.5-second silence interval between the target tone
and the interference (chords or noise), which also had a duration
of 1.5 seconds. There were four chord interference conditions.
In the first condition (chord 1), the target tone was the root note
of the interfering chord, which was a major triad (eg, for the C3
and C4 targets, the interfering chord was C E G). In the second
condition (chord 2), the root of the interference chord was a perfect fourth above the target (eg, for the D3 and D4 targets, the
interfering chord was G B D). In the third condition (chord
3), the interfering chord had a root note that was a major second
above the target (eg, for the E3 and E4 targets, the interfering
chord was F] A] C]); and in the fourth condition (chord 4),
the interfering chord had a root note that was an interval of
an octave plus a minor second, or ninth, above the target tone
(eg, for the F3 and F4 targets, the interfering chord was be G[
B[ D[). It should be noted that the target note in its root position
was sounded in chord 1, at the interval of a perfect fifth in chord
2, and was not sounded in chords 3 and 4. The progression of the
four triadic conditions systematically increased intervallic distance or harmonic association from the target pitch. In addition
to four types of musical interference, an aperiodic noise condition was created. Specifically, pink noise with a spectrum similar to that of speech was generated with Adobe Audition sound
editing software (version 1.5).
For the pitch discrimination task, Adobe Audition sound editing software (version 1.5) was used to create complex tonal
stimuli. Five complex tones were created for the male and female participants based on the normal signing range for males
and females. The frequencies for the male participants were
104, 107, 110, 113, and 116 Hz. The frequency interval between complex tones was 50 cents. Each tone had a duration
of 1.5 seconds and was gated on and off with 10-millisecond
linear amplitude ramps. Each complex tone was paired with
each of the other complex tones and with an identical complex
tone for a total of 25 pairs of tones. This resulted in tone pairs
differing by 0, 50, 100, 150, or 200 cents. Each tone in a pair
was separated by a 0.5-second silent interval. Five complex

Julie M. Estis, et al

175

Musical Interference and Noise Impact Pitch Matching

TABLE 1.
Complex Tones and Interfering Chords for Pitch-Matching Tasks
Males
Target Note

Coordinating
Frequency (Hz)

C3

131

D3

147

E3

164

F3

175

G3

196

Females
Chords

Target Note

Coordinating
Frequency (Hz)

1: C E G
2: F A C
3: D F] A
4: D[ F A[
1: D F] A
2: G B D
3: E G] B
4: E[ G B[
1: E G] B
2: A C] E
3: F] A] C]
4: F A C
1: F A C
2: B[ D F
3: G B D
4: G[ B[ D[
1: G B D
2: C E G
3: A C] E
4: A[ C E[

C4

262

D4

294

E4

330

F4

348

G4

392

tones were created for the female participants in the same manner at 200, 206, 212, 218, and 224 Hz. Tonal stimuli were presented via a Fostex 7301B3E (Tokyo, Japan) amplified speaker
at 75 dB sound pressure level (SPL) for all experimental tasks.
Volume settings were measured before the onset of the study to
ensure that all output was consistently at 75 dB SPL. In addition, sound level measurements were repeated after the study
to ensure that output level remained consistent.
Procedures
All procedures were conducted during a 1-hour session in a double-walled, sound-attenuated booth. Preexperimental tasks
were completed first. Participants read and signed a Statement
of Informed Consent. A bilateral pure tone hearing screening
was conducted using a Grason-Stadler, Inc (GSI-17; Milford,
NH) portable audiometer, calibrated in compliance with American National Standards Institute15 guidelines. Pure tones at
500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz were presented at 25 dB HL
via TDH 50 (Telephonics, Farmingdale, NY) supra-aural headphones. Participants were instructed to raise their hand when
a tone was heard. Failure to respond at any frequency at either
ear precluded participation in the study.
Voice analysis was completed using the MDVP-A to ensure
that there were no current voice problems that may have adversely affected performance on pitch-matching tasks or accuracy of acoustic measurement of pitch-matching responses.
A head-mounted microphone was placed at approximately
34 cm from the left corner of each participants mouth for
recording responses. Participants sustained the /a/ sound at a
comfortable loudness level for 4 seconds. The subsequent vocal

Chords
Chord 1: C E G
Chord 2: F A C
Chord 3: D F] A
Chord 4: D[ F A[
Chord 1: D F] A
Chord 2: G B D
Chord 3: E G] B
Chord 4: E[ G B[
Chord 1: E G] B
Chord 2: A C] E
Chord 3: F] A] C]
Chord 4: F A C
Chord 1: F A C
Chord 2: B[ D F
Chord 3: G B D
Chord 4: G[ B[D[
Chord 1: G B D
Chord 2: C E G
Chord 3: A C] E
Chord 4: A[ C E[

responses were routed through the head-mounted microphone,


then digitized at a sampling rate of 48.8 kHz, and recorded
and timed by the MDVP-A software. Responses were recorded
and analyzed using the Computerized Speech Lab (CSL) and
MDVP-A software to determine if jitter, shimmer, and noiseto-harmonic ratio values were within 1 SD of the mean based
on the MDVP-A database.
After preexperimental procedures, all participants completed
an immediate pitch-matching task, a pitch matching with interference task, and a pitch discrimination task, in that order. For
all pitch-matching tasks, stimulus tones were presented one at
a time via a Fostex 7301B3E amplified speaker. Each tone
was presented twice randomly. During the immediate pitchmatching task, participants listened to each stimulus tone and
then attempted to vocally match the pitch of each target tone
by sustaining /a/ for 4 seconds immediately after presentation
of the stimulus. Responses were timed and analyzed using the
MDVP-A software. Participants pitch-matching responses
were recorded via the head-mounted microphone, digitized at
a 48.8 kHz sampling rate by the CSL and saved to the computers hard drive for MDVP-A analysis.
For the pitch matching with interference tasks, participants
listened to each stimulus tone followed by a musical chord
(chords 14) or pink noise and attempted to vocally match
the targets by producing an /a/ sound immediately after the interference. The stimuli were randomized by ECos/Win stimulus
presentation software (AVAAZ Innovations, Inc., Ontario, Canada). Each target note (C, D, E, F, and G) was presented twice
for each condition, which resulted in a total of 50 vocal
responses.

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Journal of Voice, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2011

For the pitch discrimination paradigm, participants were


seated at a desk in front of a computer monitor and a mouse.
Each participant was seated approximately 1 m away from
a Fostex 7301B3E amplified speaker, from which pairs of complex stimulus tones were presented one at a time. Participants
were asked to discriminate between the presented stimuli. Participants received instructions to judge whether the tones presented were the same in pitch or if they were different in
pitch by selecting either same or different on the computer
screen with the mouse. Participants completed two experimental blocks for a total of 50 pitch discrimination trials. For each
block, 25 pitch discrimination stimulus pairs were presented
randomly by the ECos/Win presentation software. Participant
responses and progress were monitored by the researcher via
a networked computer from outside the room.
RESULTS
For the pitch-masking tasks, the average semitone difference
between the two attempted vocal matches and each target
tone was used to measure the dependent variable, pitch-matching accuracy. The fundamental frequency (F0) of the target
complex tone and average F0 of the pitch-matching attempts
were used to calculate difference in semitones with the following formula:

12 log10 f2  log10 f1
sds
log10 2
where sds is semitone difference scores, f1 is F0 of the target
tone, and f2 is the absolute value of the average F0 of trials 1
and 2.16 The average semitone difference was calculated in
this manner for the immediate and five interference pitchmatching conditions for each target note. Pitch discrimination
accuracy, a second dependent variable, was measured by calculating percent correct scores on the pitch discrimination task for
each participant (eg, [no. correct judgments/no. total judgments
in trial] 3 100 % correct pitch discrimination judgments).
Descriptive and statistical analyses of pitchmatching accuracy
Individual performances on the pitch-matching tasks for each
condition are shown in Figures 16. Mean semitone difference
scores and SDs were calculated across all pitch-matching conditions for each group: TS and UT (Table 2). Examination of individual performances, as well as group means and SDs, for
pitch-matching accuracy revealed consistently accurate performance across TS, whereas UT presented varying abilities. This
variability within the UT groups is evidenced by large SDs. In
fact, 10 out of 20 of the UT showed an average semitone difference from the target tones of more than 1 semitone in the immediate pitch-matching condition. Some UT, however, displayed
pitch-matching abilities similar to the TS.
To determine if training significantly impacted pitchmatching performance, given musical chord and noise interference, an omnibus, 2 (group) 3 6 (pitch-matching conditions)
repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with vocal
training as the between-subjects factor and pitch-matching

FIGURE 1. Individual mean semitone difference scores in the immediate pitch matching condition.
condition as the within-subjects factor was performed. Results
showed a significant main effect for group (TS vs UT)
F(1,38) 17.008, P < 0.001, h2p 0.309with TS showing
significantly better pitch-matching accuracy than UT. There
was no significant main effect of pitch-matching condition
and no significant interaction.
Examination of individual performances as well as group
means and SDs revealed high variability in the UT, with some
individuals presenting very poor accuracy across all pitchmatching conditions. To further explore differences across
pitch-matching conditions, the UT was divided based on
pitch-matching accuracy in the immediate pitch-matching condition. Two groups of UT were created: UT-accurate (UT-A)
(10 participants with mean semitone difference scores less
than 1 semitone from the target tone; M 0.2377,
SD 0.2211) and UT-inaccurate (UT-I) (10 participants with
mean difference scores more than 1 semitone from the target
tone; M 3.1299, SD 1.2433). This division of participants
based on performance led to three groups with significantly

FIGURE 2. Individual mean semitone difference scores in chord 1


condition.

Julie M. Estis, et al

Musical Interference and Noise Impact Pitch Matching

177

FIGURE 3. Individual mean semitone difference scores in chord 2

FIGURE 5. Individual mean semitone difference scores in chord 4

condition.

condition.

different pitch-matching accuracy in the immediate pitchmatching conditionF(2,37) 84.892, P < 0.001, h2p 0.821.
See Figure 7 for group means and SDs for semitone difference
scores across pitch-matching conditions. Because the UT-I
group performed poorly on pitch-matching tasks regardless of
interference, examination of the impact of interference on pitch
matching was compared between the TS group and the UT-A
group. Therefore, descriptive statistics and a 2 (group) 3 6
(condition) repeated-measures ANOVA with group as the between-subjects factor and pitch-matching condition as the
within-subjects factor were conducted. Mauchlys test of sphericity was significant, indicating that sphericity could not be assumed (w 0.032, P < 0.001); therefore, Huynh-Feldt
corrections were used. A significant main effect for pitchmatching condition was shownF(2.608,73.036) 4.255,
P 0.011, h2p 0.132. The accuracy of the TS diminished
with several conditions; however, their performance was more
consistent and accurate than that of the UT-A group. Analysis
of between-subject effects yielded a significant main effect

for groupF(1,28) 5.651, P 0.016, h2p 0.189. The interaction was nonsignificant. Post hoc pairwise comparisons revealed that chord 2 (P 0.007), chord 3 (P < 0.001), chord 4
(P < 0.001), and noise (P 0.007) interference conditions
were significantly different from performance in the immediate
condition. Also, there is a significant difference in performance
between the chord 3 and chord 4 conditions and between the
chord 3 and the noise conditions.

FIGURE 4. Individual mean semitone difference scores in chord 3

FIGURE 6. Individual mean semitone difference scores in the noise

condition.

condition.

Descriptive and statistical analyses of pitch


discrimination
To examine the relationship between pitch discrimination and
pitch-matching skills, which the fourth research question in
the current study raised, pitch discrimination accuracy (measured in percent correct scores) descriptive and statistical analyses were conducted. SDs were calculated for each group.
Mean percent correct scores were calculated for each individual
(Figure 8). Group means were higher for TS (M 94%,
SD 3.0504) than UT (M 82%, SD 1.1514).

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Journal of Voice, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2011

TABLE 2.
Group M and SD of Semitone Difference Scores for TS and UT
Trained Singers
Pitch-Matching Condition
Immediate
Chord 1
Chord 2
Chord 3
Chord 4
Noise

Untrained Individuals

SD

SD

0.1246
0.1601
0.1645
0.2539
0.2830
0.1835

0.0567
0.1283
0.1115
0.2340
0.1979
0.1324

1.6838
2.0480
2.0450
2.1740
2.0694
2.0047

1.7195
2.6246
2.0683
1.9357
1.9757
2.1132

A 1 (pitch discrimination accuracy) 3 2 (group) ANOVA was


conducted to determine if differences in pitch discrimination
accuracy existed among the four experimental groups. A significant main effect was found for groupF(1,38) 32.565,
P < 001, h2p 0.461. The post hoc pairwise comparisons indicated that the TS group performed significantly better on the
pitch discrimination task than the UT group. A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed a significant correlation between overall pitch discrimination scores and immediate
pitch-matching accuracy (r 575, P <0.001), across all
participants. The shared variance between pitch discrimination
performance and pitch-matching accuracy was 33%
(r2 0.331).
DISCUSSION
Group differences in pitch-matching accuracy
Primarily, this study sought to investigate the impact of specific
types of auditory interference on pitch-matching abilities in TS
and UT, specifically using musical chords with target in root position (chord 1); musical chords with the root a perfect fourth
above the target and the target sounding as the fifth of the chord
(chord 2); musical chords with the root a major second away
from the target or supertonic (chord 3); unrelated chord a ninth
away (chord 4); and pink noise (noise), which were then compared with pitch-matching accuracy immediately after target
tone presentation (immediate). It was proposed that TS would

have superior pitch-matching abilities when compared with


UT, and that some untrained singers would possess abilities
similar to their trained counterparts. This was in accordance
with findings from previous studies.1,11,14 As expected, between-group differences existed in pitch-matching performance across all pitch-matching conditions. The TS were
consistently accurate when vocally matching target tones. The
untrained group of participants, however, showed varied levels
of pitch-matching accuracy, with some individuals nearly as accurate as the TS and others very inaccurate, producing responses several musical notes away from the target tones.
Untrained participants were further grouped according to
pitch-matching accuracy in the immediate condition (10 untrained accurate participants and 10 untrained inaccurate participants) for additional analysis of pitch-matching accuracy
across the experimental conditions.
Timbre and time have been found to negatively impact pitchmatching abilities in both TS and UT.1,11,14 The current investigation adds to these findings, suggesting that pitch-matching
accuracy is reduced when some types of musical chord interference and noise interference are presented to TS and untrained
accurate participants. The chord 1 condition yielded pitchmatching accuracy similar to that in the immediate condition
as expected. For the chord 1 and chord 2 conditions, the target
tone was in the root or fifth position of the chords, giving participants an opportunity to hear the target tone a second time.

FIGURE 7. Mean semitone difference scores for TS, UT-A, and

FIGURE 8. Individual percent correct scores in the pitch discrimina-

UT-I groups.

tion task.

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Musical Interference and Noise Impact Pitch Matching

However, chords that did not contain the target tone (chord 3
and chord 4 conditions) negatively impacted pitch-matching accuracy. As anticipated, results showed increasingly significant
differences between the immediate condition and chord 2,
chord 3, and chord 4 conditions. The chord 3 (musical chords
with the root a major second away from the target) and chord
4 (unrelated chord a ninth above) conditions were found to be
most detrimental to the untrained accurate singers when compared with their scores in the immediate condition. Noise interference also significantly reduced pitch-matching accuracy. In
summary, the current study reveals that TS have pitch-matching
skills superior to those of UT. However, some UT demonstrate
pitch-matching accuracy similar to TS. This indicates that, in
addition to musical exposure and learning, innate factors may
play a role in pitch-matching abilities. The consistently accurate performance observed in TS suggests that vocal training
fine-tunes the underlying mechanisms involved in pitch matching, thereby enhancing pitch-matching accuracy. Specifically,
practice and training likely improve the efficiency of the vocal
mechanism, allowing the TS to quickly and precisely configure
the vocal folds for production of a specific pitch. Additionally,
musical training yields improved cognitive representations for
musical notes, enhancing the efficiency of the perceptual and
memory resources for pitch.

Group differences in pitch discrimination accuracy


The second research question addressed the relationship
between pitch discrimination and pitch matching. For the current study, it was proposed that TS would perform better in
the pitch discrimination task than their untrained counterparts
based on the findings of Amir et al,17 which showed enhanced
auditory abilities of TS compared with those of UT. As expected, between-group differences existed among participants
for the pitch discrimination task. In accordance with findings
from similar studies, it was also hypothesized that pitch discrimination and pitch matching would be correlated given overlapping systems involved in these tasks.11,1719 Results showed
a strong relationship between pitch discrimination and pitch
matching. Overall, participants who displayed accurate pitch
discrimination skills also showed accurate pitch discrimination
skills and vice versa. It is important to note that 10 out of the 20
UT in this investigation were considered inaccurate with average mean semitone differences of at least 1 semitone away
from the target. Of those 10, two showed good pitch discrimination skills but had extremely poor pitch-matching skills, as
they were each approximately 3 semitones off of the target in
the immediate pitch-matching conditions. Performance of these
outliers is similar to that of the participants in an investigation
by Bradshaw and McHenry,18 which examined pitch discrimination and pitch-matching abilities in only inaccurate adults.
There was no significant correlation between pitch discrimination and pitch matching. Despite the variability in pitch discrimination among those with poor pitch-matching abilities, a strong
overall relationship between pitch discrimination and pitch
matching remains.

179

SUMMARY
Musical training enhances pitch-matching accuracy. For TS,
pitch-matching ability remains strong despite musical and noise
interference. Pitch-matching accuracy varies considerably
among UT. Those who show accurate pitch matching without
a musical background are more susceptible than TS to reduced
pitch-matching accuracy when chords that do not contain the
target tone and noise interference are presented. Those who
are unable to adequately match pitch show poor performance
with and without musical and noise interference. This study
also supports previous research showing a strong relationship
between pitch discrimination and pitch-matching abilities.
This study provides insight into the underlying processes involved in pitch matching and pitch discrimination. Results suggest that pitch memory is enhanced by musical training,
although some individuals without training appear to show naturally strong pitch memory skills. Questions remain regarding
the exact cognitive, perceptual, and physiological mechanisms
involved in pitch matching. Future research exploring neurological, auditory, and physiological correlates may explain the
variation in pitch matching among the general population and
the effects of vocal training on these underlying systems.
Results of this study imply that individuals who demonstrate
poor pitch matching and poor pitch discrimination may require
additional training. For example, vocal function exercises,20
which require patients to sustain sounds at various frequencies,
are used by speech language pathologists to treat a variety of
vocal pathologies. Some patients may demonstrate difficulty
with these tasks because of reduced pitch perception and
pitch-matching abilities. These patients may require modifications to the typical treatment protocol. Also, choral directors
and teachers of singing may consider incorporating similar
pitch matching and pitch discrimination tasks into their auditioning process to screen UT. This would allow for determination of those who show naturally strong pitch-matching and
pitch discrimination abilities.

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