Ethnicity Effects in Relative Pitch Learning


Higher rates of Absolute Pitch among East Asian musicians has garnered considerable research interest for it position to uncover relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors such as musical training and tone-language knowledge. In three studies with non-musicians (n = 142) on learning Relative Pitch (the relation between tones), we establish similar ethnicity effects. East Asians consistently outperformed other participants in relative pitch tasks regardless of tone-language knowledge; no difference was observed in a ‘relative rhythm’ control task. Results suggest genetic and environmental factors in identifying musical intervals.

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