Tonal memory

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In music, tonal memory or "aural recall" is the ability to recall a previously sounded tone.[clarification needed][1] Tonal memory assists with staying in tune and may be developed through ear training. Extensive tonal memory may be recognized as an indication of potential compositional ability.[2]

Tonal memory may be used as a strategy for learning to identify musical tones absolutely. Although those who attempt the strategy believe they are learning absolute pitch, the ability thus is generally not musically relevant,[3] and their absolute tonal memory declines substantially or completely over time if not constantly reinforced.[4] Short term memory can also play a role with tonal memory as well. To figure out what the tones/pitches in a phrase are either similar or different. Having the memory to recall the pitches will help make the distinction.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gorow, Ron (2002). Hearing and Writing Music: Professional Training for Today's Musician (2nd Edition). ISBN 978-0-9629496-7-8.
  2. ^ Haroutounian, Joanne (2002). Kindling the Spark : Recognizing and Developing Musical Talent. ISBN 978-0-19-512948-9.
  3. ^ Bachem, A. (1940). "The genesis of absolute pitch". Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 11 (4): 434–439. doi:10.1121/1.1916056.
  4. ^ Meyer, M. (1899). "Is the memory of absolute pitch capable of development by training?". Psychological Review. 6 (5): 514–516. doi:10.1037/h0069034.Full text
  5. ^ Deutsch, Diana. "Short Term Memory for Tones". DianaDeutsch. Retrieved 2 May 2017.