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In this exploratory study, members of an adult community band (N = 38) completed a listening task in which they attempted to identify instruments performing single-tone excerpts and determine the level of expertise of the performer (professional or beginner). We created two different conditions (tones that included initial attack and tones with sustain only and no initial attack) among tones produced by four different instruments (flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet) on two different pitches (F4 and B-flat4). Results of data analysis indicated that participants were more successful identifying tones that included the initial attack (as opposed to tones consisting of sustain only). Trumpet was the instrument identified accurately most consistently, and participants were more accurate identifying instrument timbre when the pitch was F4 rather than B-flat 4. Results indicated significant three-way interactions between pitch, attack presence, and instrument, and also between pitch, expertise, and attack presence. The presence of the initial attack was a significant variable affecting participants' ability to identify instrumental timbre, a result consistent with findings of previous research. One unique finding suggested that performer expertise did not significantly affect participants' perception of timbre; findings of previous studies using collegiate-level musicians and nonmusicians indicated a significant effect related to performer expertise. Though not significant, a negative correlation (r = -.20) between participants' age and overall score on the task implies perception may be affected by age.

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Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education



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