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Free Content Pilot-testing of new software for measuring string players’ instrument tuning skills

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Computer-based software named the Tuning Perception Test (TPT) was developed using Processing, a free, open-source programming language. The specific pitch perception skills examined by the software included unison pitch-matching and harmonic P5 interval tuning. A pilot-test established reliability for the TPT and gathered preliminary data on string instrumentalists’ tuning accuracy at varied school levels (fifth, seventh, ninth, eleventh-grade, university music majors). Reliability was very strong for pitch-matching items (α=0.90) and for the perfect fifth tuning items (α=0.91). Pitch-matching and P5 tuning accuracy improved consistently as school level increased, suggesting that refinement of pitch perception occurs gradually over time, with beginning and intermediate string instrumentalists requiring training in pitch-matching and interval tuning to develop the pitch perception skills necessary to accurately tune a stringed instrument. Participants demonstrated a tendency towards tuning flat, with tuning accuracy decreasing at lower fundamental frequencies.

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Keywords: interval; measurement; pitch matching; pitch perception; software development; stringed instrument; tuning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Michigan

Publication date: May 1, 2014

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  • The Journal of Music, Technology and Education (JMTE) explores the issues concerning the use of technology in music education. It examines pedagogy at all levels and across genres such as composition, musicology, performance and music production. It is the only journal specifically dedicated to the educational aspects of music technology and the technological aspects of music. Peer-reviewed, with an international editorial board, JMTE aims to draw its contributions from a broad community of educators, researchers and practitioners who are working closely with new technologies in the fields of music education and music technology education.
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