Areas of Science Music
Difficulty
Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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Abstract

Do 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.

Bibliography

Barca-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.

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MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Pitch Perception." Science Buddies, 28 July 2017, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Music_p002/music/pitch-perception. Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2017, July 28). Pitch Perception. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Music_p002/music/pitch-perception


Last edit date: 2017-07-28

Experimental Procedure

For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

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