Issue N# 5 - 2005
Contribution of the study of singing in tune in musically non expert subjects: Importance of short term memory of pitch (19 to 28 year-old subjects)
Authors : S. Belin, A. Peuvergne, J. Sarfati (Lyon)
Ref. : Rev Laryngol Otol Rhinol. 2005;126,5:335-340.
Article published in french
Downloadable PDF document french
Introduction: In the singing, which requires precise knowledge of the relevant musical code in use, accuracy of intonation plays a central role. Singing in tune requires to perceive pitch precisely and to memorize it before planning and executing the accurate vocal motion, which allows the exact emission of the correct pitch. Objectives: Our work investigated the role of short term memory of pitch on singing accuracy. Material and method: For that purpose, the experimental protocol of Deutsch (1970) was adapted for a perception and a production task. Participants were selected for their singing accuracy and separated into two groups of ten singing in tune and ten out-of-tune. All participants perceived pitch height exactly and were musically non-experts. For the perception and the production tasks, participants had to either compare or reproduce single pitches or two-pitch-sets. For the perception task, participants had to compare either single pitches or two-pitch patterns, all separated by a five seconds delay. For the production task, participants had to reproduce either single pitches or two-pitch patterns after a five seconds delay. The five seconds delay was either filled with intervening numbers, or with intervening tones, or without any disturbing sound. Results: In perception and production task, the presence of intervening tones disturbs deeply the success of the subjects for every trial. Performance of the in-tune singing group is better for all the exercises while the other group had difficulties on single pitches and two-pitch patterns and was more disturbed by the effect of the intervening material. Conclusion: The outcome suggests that short term memory of pitch and accuracy of intonation would be closely linked. Further research needs to specify if that would mean that troubles in singing in tune are a consequence of a low-efficient short term memory of pitch, or if that troubles would hold up the right construction of the short term memory of pitch.
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