Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The problems of real-time pitch detection by computer were studied in an attempt to develop a learning tool for sightsinging students. Specialized hardware and software were developed for the task of solving three problems in real time: (1) the extraction of the fundamental frequency of vocal tones, (2) the detection of the pitch of those tones, and (3) the display of those pitches in standard music notation for visual feedback to the student. The system that was developed has the capabilities of: (1) displaying standard music symbols in high resolution graphic images, (2) accessing a library of melodies to be used in student testing, (3) generating sound for the purposes of aurally establishing the key of melodies and playing those melodies, (4) displaying in real time the pitches the student is singing, (5) evaluating the student's performance of a melody, (6) transposing the key of melodies to a key that allows the melody to lie comfortably in the student's vocal range, (7) tailoring the sequence of melody selection to the abilities of the student, (8) creating and maintaining a file of session statistics for each user during each practice session without any human intervention, and (9) operating in a free mode in which the student may sing any series of pitches he desires. These capabilities of the system were demonstrated and tested during the second half of the Fall semester in 1983 at Louisiana State University in order to attempt to provide an indication of the system's pedagogical value. The system was used by freshman music majors who were randomly selected from the music theory classes. While formal proof of the system's value was not forthcoming from the experiment, informal results indicate that the system may hold a very useful position in the development of sightsinging skills.