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Abstract

Absolute pitch (AP), besides the psychological and neurological interests it has, raises some conceptual difficulties that can teach us about the richness of our notion of musical tone and various aspects of its identification. It is argued that when AP is conceived under a slim notion of identifying the pitch of a crude sound, it is hardly meaningful and has no significance in music comprehension. The rich notion, which is the meaningful and important one, involves knowing the position of a tone in a tone-space and its relations. This is presented as experiential: hearing and identifying tones under concepts and relations that are experienced rather than figured out or derived on the basis of crude identification of bare tones. Since many of these concepts and relations are musically meaningful, this rich notion of identification is thus connected to musical understanding and aesthetic appreciation of a musical work. It may also be claimed to be vital in passing between different sense modalities, and can explain various aspects of AP and puzzles connected with it.

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Esthetics Commons

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