Music perception, pitch, and the auditory system

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2008 Aug;18(4):452-63. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2008.09.005. Epub 2008 Oct 2.


The perception of music depends on many culture-specific factors, but is also constrained by properties of the auditory system. This has been best characterized for those aspects of music that involve pitch. Pitch sequences are heard in terms of relative as well as absolute pitch. Pitch combinations give rise to emergent properties not present in the component notes. In this review we discuss the basic auditory mechanisms contributing to these and other perceptual effects in music.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology*
  • Pitch Perception / physiology*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound