15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


An Experimental Study of Absolute Pitch in a Professional Soprano

Nicole Scotto Di Carlo

LPL-CNRS, France

This experiment was aimed at modifying the proprioceptive references of a professional soprano endowed with absolute pitch. To do so, an osteopathic doctor changed the height of her larynx by altering the tension between the hyoid bone and the occipital bone. A cephalometric analysis of X-rays taken before and after the manipulations indicated that the position of the phonatory organs had indeed been affected. The results of an acoustic analysis, and perception tests on the tones produced before and after manipulation provided irrefutable evidence of the influence of the laryngeal manipulations on the tonal accuracy of the emission. This study demonstrates the critical role that this soprano's kinesthetic-pallesthetic memory plays in pitch recognition, and suggests the existence of different types of absolute pitch.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Scotto Di Carlo, Nicole (2003): "An experimental study of absolute pitch in a professional soprano", In ICPhS-15, 2633-2636.