Key change: Defining the phenotype of absolute pitch

This project relates to the phenomenon of absolute pitch (AP), a rare ability in music perception in which individuals can identify and label isolated musical pitches. AP is of interest in behavioural genetics, as it is a relatively discrete trait with evidence of heritability. Despite over a century of research, a definition of what exactly constitutes AP has not been universally agreed upon. One particular area of contention is the conception of AP as a dichotomous, all-or-nothing trait, with more recent research indicating that it may lie at the apex of a spectrum of ability or as one category of ability among several. This project aims to clarify the phenotype of AP using novel measures that capture variability in pitch-naming strategies.


Enquiries:  Jane Bairnsfather (


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