Pitch shifts on mistuned harmonics in the presence and absence of corresponding in-tune components

Stephen Holmes, Brian Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mistuning a harmonic produces an exaggerated change in its pitch, a component-pitch shift. The origin of these pitch shifts was explored by manipulations intended to alter the grouping status of a mistuned target component in a periodic complex tone. In experiment 1, which used diotic presentation, reinstating the corresponding harmonic (in-tune counterpart) caused the pitch shifts on the mistuned target largely to disappear for components 3 and 4, although they remained for component 2. A computational model of component-pitch shifts, based on harmonic cancellation, was unable to explain the near-complete loss of pitch shifts when the counterpart was present; only small changes occurred. In experiment 2, the complex tone and mistuned component 4 were presented in the left ear and the in-tune counterpart was presented in the right. The in-tune counterpart again reduced component-pitch shifts, but they were restored when a captor complex into which the counterpart fitted as harmonic 3 was added in the right ear; presumably by providing an alternative grouping possibility for the counterpart. It is proposed that component-pitch shifts occur only if the mistuned component is selected to contribute to the complex-tone percept; these shifts are eliminated if it is displaced by a better candidate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1548-1560
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • harmonic analysis
  • hearing


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