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Pitch Perception

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Nature or Nurture: The origins of pitch Perception

For most of us, quick and accurate perception of the visual world is essential for getting around in life; we take for granted our instant recognition of color, shape, distance, and the physical relationships between objects. Many aspects of the auditory world are also apprehended in an effortless manner: a nighttime whistle is easily identified as a distant train, without any deliberation. However, identifying the pitch of an isolated whistle is beyond the abilities of most people. This is also the case for most musicians, despite the fact that they spend every day working in the context of a standardized system of pitch relationships. Those rare individuals who can instantly recognize the pitch of a random piano tone or passing car horn, without the use of a reference pitch, possess a cognitive ability that is termed "absolute pitch."

The range of useful musical pitches is 20-5,000



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