Pitch content is an important component of song and speech. Previous studies have shown a pronounced advantage for imitation of sung pitch over spoken pitch. However, it is not clear to what extent matching of pitch in production depends on one’s intention to imitate pitch. We measured the effects of intention to imitate on matching of produced pitch in both vocal domains. Participants imitated pitch content in speech and song stimuli intentionally (“imitate the pitch”) and incidentally (“repeat the words”). Our results suggest that the song advantage exists independently of whether participants explicitly intend to imitate pitch. This result supports the notion that the song advantage reflects pitch salience in the stimulus. On the other hand, participants were more effective at suppressing the imitation of pitch for song than for speech. This second result suggests that it is easier to dissociate phonetic content from pitch in the context of song than in speech. Analyses of individual differences showed that intention to imitate pitch had larger effects for individuals who tended to match pitch overall in production, independent of intentions. Taken together, the results help to illuminate the psychological processes underlying intentional and automatic vocal imitation processes.
Psychological Research – Springer Journals
Published: May 20, 2021