Platt, J.R., Racine, R.J. (1985). Effect of frequency, timbre, experience, and feedback on musical tuning skills. Percept. Psychophys. 38, 543-553

Subjects with tuning experience were superior to nontuners in a pitch-matching task at all but the lowest of five frequencies tested. Performance was better for adjustment of simple (sine-wave) tones to match simple tones than for adjustment of comoplex (string-timbre) tones to match simple tones. A comparison of constant errors showed that both tuners and nontuners heard complex tones as sharp relative to simple tones. Additional testing with 2 of the subjects indicated that the first overtone of the complex tone was sufficient to produce this effect. Repetition of the pitch-matching task over 6 days produced some inmprovement in performance. A second experiment showed that auditory and visual feedback improved tuning accuracy for complex comparison tones about 4.5 cents more than did practice without feedback, but no effect was observed for simple comparison tones. This experiment also indicated that musical experience, rather than tuning experience per se, was responsible for the effects of prior experience, and that tuning was more accurate when the standard was a complex tone and when the standard and comparison tones had the same timbre. The relevance of these data to musical tuning skills and to theories of complex pitch perception is discussed.