Pitch Perception *
AbstractDo violin students have better relative pitch than piano students? Since the violin requires the player to choose the correct location to stop the string in order to sound the proper note, you might think that violin players would, as a result of practice, have better ear training than piano students. On the other hand, you could argue the opposite viewpoint, since piano students would have the benefit of hearing correct intervals (assuming that the piano is in tune). Which hypothesis do you think is correct? Or perhaps you have yet another hypothesis of your own. To investigate, make recordings of different pairs of notes, played sequentially, with a brief pause in between. Randomize the order of the note pairs and include at least three examples of each interval that you test. Recruit volunteers to take a relative pitch test. One third of your volunteers should be violinists, one third pianists, and one third non-musicians. Ideally, you should have 50–100 volunteers per group (the more the better; see the Science Buddies resource: How Many Participants Do I Need?). Test the volunteers individually. After listening to each note pair, each subject should report whether the second note was higher, lower, or the same as the first note. You may also want to see if your test subjects can identify the interval (this is much harder). Analyze the scores for each group. Which group has the best score? Are some intervals easier than others? (Barca-Hall, 2005) If you're interested in doing a related Science Buddies project about how we hear, see Measuring Your Threshold of Hearing for Sounds of Different Pitches.
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
BibliographyBarca-Hall, S.L., 2005. "Battle for Tonal Domination: Do Violin Students Have Better Relative Pitch than Piano Students?" California State Science Fair Abstract [accessed August 22, 2006] http://cssf.usc.edu/History/2005/Projects/J0302.pdf.
News Feed on This Topic
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
AudiologistOn each side of your head is the auditory system, one of the most beautifully designed organs in the human body. The auditory system not only detects sound, but is closely tied to the vestibular system, which helps a person with balance, and knowing how his or her body is moving through space. Audiologists detect, diagnose, and develop treatment plans for people of all ages who have problems with hearing, balance, or spatial positioning. This important work impacts how well a person is able to communicate and function at home, school, and work. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity