The Development of Relative Pitch

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How and why does our perception change? What is happening to our auditory system during the infants’ critical age? What are the requirements and motivation of acquiring relative pitch? Surprisingly, delving into the development process of relative pitch reveals something far more remarkable than mere brain development of sound perception. The fact that why and how we shifted our auditory perception from perfect pitch to relative pitch may ultimately open up the enigmatic door to human evolution in music and representation.

I will look into comparative studies on songbirds and apes to explain how relative pitch is uniquely human. Most vocally inept animals rely on perfect pitch since some of the key requirements of relative pitch are not met.

I will draw similarities between infants and our hominid ancestors throughout the paper. Some of the changes and cognitive developments during the critical age well display our ancestor’s development of symbolic mind. However, I am not necessarily embracing the theory of recapitulation – ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny – since I do not believe that behaviors of infants are the evidence of those of our ancestors.