Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Michael Hall

Jeff Dyche

Lincoln Gray


In the tritone paradox, there are many questions surrounding how listeners can make pitch judgments since Shepard tones are comprised of all octaves and this makes pitch ambiguous. The current study examined the influences from spectral envelope shape, spectral centroid, chroma, and musical training to identify how timbre and pitch interactions impacted pitch judgments to different tone types, including Shepard tones. Each trial consisted of a standard and a comparison tone differing by spectral envelope shape. Listeners were presented with these tone pairs and asked to judge whether the tone pairs were going up or down in pitch. For Shepard tones, sensitivity varied across centroid and chroma while acoustic analyses of the Shepard tones supported that pitch judgment performance was predicted by an aspect of spectral envelope shape, the relative amplitude of the F0. The current study suggests that listeners first try to use the F0 to make a pitch judgment, and when that component is not resolvable, systematically process the next components until they can judge pitch. This idea of a shared pitch processing mechanism is applicable to all tone types, including Shepard tones, and provides an explanation for the observed pattern of results seen in the tritone paradox. Future research should aim to confirm the relative amplitude of the F0 predicts pitch judgment using the tritone paradox procedure to determine how listeners process pitch for Shepard tones.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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