Plomp, R. (1967). Pitch of complex tones. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 41, 1526-1533

The question of whether the pitch of complex tones is based either on the frequency of the fundamental or on the periodicity of the sound as whole was studied. Fifteen nive subjects copared the stimuli A = Sum n=1 to 12 (a_n cos(2pi nft)) and B = Sum n=1 to m(a_n cos(2pi n0.9ft)) + Sum n=m+1 to 12(cos(2pi n1.1ft)) and had to decide which of the two stimuli, presented successively during 200 msec intervals, was higher in pitch. The results showed that for m=1 (fundamental of B was 10% lower in frequency than that of A, and all other harmonics were 10% higher in frequency than A) the pitch changed according to the harmonics for f<1400 Hz and according to the fundamental for f>1400 Hz. For m= 2, 3, and 4, the corresponding transition frequency ws about 700, 350, and <125 Hz, respectively. This holds for both an=1 and an=1/n. The experiments support the view that the pitch of complex tones is based on periodicity rather than on frequency. The description of the experiments is preseded by a historical review.