Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Perfect Pitch and Languages

According to Diana Deutsch, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, not only do brain areas related to language and music overlap considerably, a person's native tongue influences the way he or she perceives music. Depending on the language the listener learned growing up, the same succession of musical notes may sound quite different. For example, speakers of tonal languages (including Mandarin) are more likely than Westerners to have perfect pith. In one study quoted by Ken Robinson in his book "Out of Our Minds," 92% of Mandarin speakers who began music lessons at or before the age of five had perfect pitch. Only 8% of English speakers had perfect pitch with comparable musical training. And "listening" begins in utero.

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