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Absolute memory for pitch: A comparative replication of Levitin's 1994 study in six European labs


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Frieler, Klaus ; Fischinger, Timo ; Schlemmer, Kathrin ; Lothwesen, Kai Stefan ; Jakubowski, Kelly ; Müllensiefen, Daniel:
Absolute memory for pitch: A comparative replication of Levitin's 1994 study in six European labs.
In: Musicae Scientiae / ESCOM, European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. 17 (September 2013) 3. - S. 334-349.
ISSN 1029-8649


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In a widely cited study, Levitin (1994) suggested the existence of absolute pitch memory for music in the general population beyond the rare trait of genuine absolute pitch (AP). In his sample, a significant proportion of non-AP possessors were able to reproduce absolute pitch levels when asked to sing very familiar pop songs from memory. Forty-four percent of participants sang the correct pitch on at least one of two trials, and 12% were correct on both trials. However, until now, no replication of this study has ever been published. The current paper presents the results of a large replication endeavour across six different labs in Germany and the UK. All labs used the same methodology, carefully replicating Levitin’s original experiment. In each lab, between 40 and 50 participants were tested (N = 277). Participants were asked to sing two different pop songs of their choice. All sung productions were compared to the original songs. Twenty-five percent of the participants sang the exact pitch of at least one of the two chosen songs and 4% hit the right pitches for both songs. Our results generally confirm the findings of Levitin (1994). However, the results differ considerably across laboratories, and the estimated overall effect using meta-analysis techniques was significantly smaller than Levitin’s original result. This illustrates the variability of empirical findings derived from small sample sizes and corroborates the need for replication and meta-analytical studies in music psychology in general.

Weitere Angaben

Schlagwörter:absolute pitch, collaborative research, music listening, music memory, replication.
absolutes Gehör, Musikhören, Musikgedächtnis, Replikationsstudie
Sprache des Eintrags:Englisch
Institutionen der Universität:Philosophisch-Pädagogische Fakultät > Musik > Professur für Musikwissenschaft
DOI / URN / ID:10.1177/1029864913493802
Open Access: Freie Zugänglichkeit des Volltexts?:Nein
Verlag:Sage Publications
Die Zeitschrift ist nachgewiesen in:
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 09. Sep 2013 08:25
Letzte Änderung: 03. Aug 2023 11:42
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