Pitch discrimination abilities in classical Arab-music listeners

Eitan Globerson, Taiseer Elias, Nadia Kittany, Noam Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current experiment examined pitch discrimination thresholds in listeners of classical Arab music, and listeners of Western popular music. Classical Arab music is characterized by modes ("Maqamat", plural of "Maqam" in Arabic language) of which the smallest interval is a quarter tone. In contrast, the smallest interval in Western music is a semitone. We hypothesized that daily exposure to a musical style involving minuscule pitch differences may have a positive effect on pitch discrimination abilities. Results demonstrate superior pitch discrimination abilities in the classical Arab music listeners. These results indicate that musical cultures may differ in their influence on perceptual abilities, depending on their basic acoustic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-124
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Acoustics
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2016


  • Arab music
  • Maqam
  • Pitch discrimination
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Quarter tones

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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