Effects of Stimulus Duration and Vowel Quality in Tone Perception by English Musicians and Non-musicians

Si Chen, Yiqing Zhu, Ratree Wayland, Yike Yang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


The link between music and language has been a subject of great interest, and evidence suggesting a connection between musical abilities and prosodic processing skills in language is growing. Acoustic fundamental frequency (F0), perceived as pitch, differentiates notes in music and word meaning in lexical tone languages. This study examines categorical perception of pitch stimuli among 14 English musicians and 15 English non-musicians, both groups having no exposure to tonal languages. The stimuli consist of continua of falling and rising F0 contours produced on high and low vowels with 9 different durations. The results revealed that musicians were more sensitive to variation in stimulus duration than nonmusicians were, and music experience enhanced the sharpness of category boundaries. Significant main effects of vowel quality and pitch directions as well as two-way interactions between vowel and pitch direction, vowel and duration, group and duration, and pitch direction and duration on identification rate were also found. Formulae for minimum duration required for English musicians and non-English musicians to perceive rising and falling F0 were derived, revealing that musicians require less time to perceive a pitch fall and rise if the change is less than 12semitones.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 32nd Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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