What you need to know
  • We would like to invite you to participate in a project on pitch-naming ability among musicians. The project aims to investigate the range of pitch-naming ability among musicians, from those who perform at chance level (guess the identity of presented notes) through to those with high-accuracy absolute pitch (perfect pitch). We are also interested in the heritability of pitch-naming ability – if one of your parents has absolute pitch, for example, how does this relate to your pitch-naming ability? Importantly, traditional methods of classifying pitch naming ability have not been shown to be reliable. For this reason, we are also investigating the range of abilities in the population/community. This means there is no right or wrong outcome from performing this task, and it will not be able to tell you whether you have perfect pitch. Your participation will help us to better understand how pitch- naming varies in the population, and how both genetic and environmental factors may contribute to it.
  • Should you agree to participate, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire and two pitch-naming tasks, both online. This is expected to take less than 45 minutes in total. The questionnaire asks about your musical experience, as well as some basic demographic and health-related items. The pitch-naming tasks will both involve listening to presented tones and sounds and identifying them. You will need access to either headphones or computer speakers, and be in a quiet room free from distraction. The tasks are designed to be difficult for people with and without absolute pitch, and they in no way reflect your general musical abilities. At the conclusion of the task, you will be invited to share this study with family members. The more members of participants’ families who complete the study, the better we will be able to track the extent to which pitch- naming ability runs in families.
  • There is minimal risk associated with this project. We understand that the way you feel about your pitch-naming ability may be affected by how well you perform on these tasks. For this reason, you will not be provided with a “score” at the conclusion of the tasks. The tasks are designed to be challenging, even for those with very high- accuracy pitch-naming ability, so please do not feel discouraged if you find them difficult.
  • Absolute pitch has been a subject of investigation for many years, as people with high-accuracy pitch-naming ability tend to have some minor differences in brain structure and function. However, the definition of what counts as “absolute pitch” is quite contentious, making it difficult to compare results across different studies. Your participation in this research will contribute to a systematic, data-driven classification of pitch-naming ability, which aims to improve upon the somewhat arbitrary definitions used in the past. Furthermore, by understanding how pitch-naming ability may run in families, we will advance a step closer to finding a genetic basis for absolute pitch.
    You may choose to receive a written summary of key findings from the project, which will be made available at the conclusion of Jane Bairnsfather’s PhD. Results will also be published in academic journals and presented at conferences.
    If you are a first-year student in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, you may receive one hour of credit for the Research Experience Program.
  • All information you give will be kept strictly confidential, subject to legal requirements, and will be kept in safe storage for five years after the publication of the research, at which time it will be destroyed. All data will be anonymised and stored on secure servers and password-protected computers at the University of Melbourne. This information may be used in future for closely related research, but your information will never be identifiable. If you choose to share this study with family members, at no point will your data be made available to them (and none of theirs will be available to you). You and your family members will be linked in our database via participant codes and listing of relationship (eg brother, maternal aunt), not by name.
  • Participation in this research is completely voluntary. You are free to withdraw at any time and to withdraw any unprocessed data previously supplied. This would have no effect on your relationship with any member of the School of Psychological Sciences. It would not affect your grades, assessment or any treatment that you would otherwise be eligible for.
  • If you have not understood any of this information please contact any of the researchers listed above. This research project has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of The University of Melbourne. If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of this research project, which you do not wish to discuss with the research team, you should contact the Manager, Human Research Ethics, Office for Research Ethics and Integrity, University of Melbourne, VIC 3010. Tel: +61 3 8344 2073 or Fax: +61 3 9347 6739 or Email: HumanEthicscomplaints@unimelb.edu.au. All complaints will be treated confidentially. In any correspondence please provide the name of the research team or the name or ethics ID number (HREC Number: 1851930.2) of the research project.
  • If you wish to participate, please click Continue below.