Summary and research findings from the author’s doctoral dissertation on the theme 

„About the Relation between Ability in Pitch and Performance Quality: 

Research comparing pianists with relative and those with absolute (perfect) pitch“

by Dipl. Pedagogue Mag. art. Damir Sertić PhD

A few words of introduction:

I would like to start this article in an unorthodox way and talk about my feelings concerning my doctoral thesis. Embarking on this scientific work, I sacrificed an enormous amount of time over the course of 10 years which I could have used more for artistic creativity. From today's perspective that seems crazy to me. That is because I have always identified myself more as an artist and less as a scientist. Also, the topic about pianists with relative and absolute pitch, and the urge to prove my theses about them, was so important to me that it became easy in the end to make the necessary sacrifices - for the sake of science and to bring the truth to light about these two hearing types.


I always knew that the results of my research could cause an uproar, but ... After the dissertation and its defence in Nov. 2018 were rated highly overall, it was still devastating to learn that the rectorate of my own university, the "Mozarteum", where I undertook my doctorate, decided against making my research results publicly known. I have decided to look at this positively and believe this fact could now attract even more attention from readers. Here is the the reply I received from the journalist who is responsible for publishing the latest research results of the Mozarteum University in the Salzburger Nachrichten:


„Salzburg, May 29, 2019

I proposed your work for publication in the Uni-News, but the request is unfortunately still with the rectorate and I have not yet received any feedback (apparently the topic is a bit tricky? sensitive? I don't know what the problem is). So it won't work with the next June issue. Of course, I'll get in touch as soon as I have an okay from the rectorate.

With best regards, T. M."


As can happen typically after such long and strenuous work, one first falls into a deep hole in terms of creativity (to put it nicely). The work was far from over and the results somehow had to be made public. But, to be honest, my own “home”, the “Mozarteum”, had knocked me back for a while with this message. I was tired and my thirst for action was exhausted. I was sure that a turnaround was still possible and nobody would repeat or imitate this work anytime soon. I also longed to find my way back to the artist in myself, to pull myself laboriously out of this creative hole, and try to start again where I was before the intensive final spurt to complete my dissertation.


Accordingly, it took a long time to translate this summary. It was my plan to present the research results in parallel in three languages​. Many people told me just to ask someone to translate the summary. But both the expense and the risk that it would ultimately not be appropriate deterred me, given the many technical terms to interpret. I knew I had to do this work myself and then afterwards simply look for assistance in proofreading. At this point I would like to thank my friends John Lotherington for correcting the English version and Višnja Požgaj the Croatian version. 

Special thanks to my supervisor Prof. Dr. phil. Regina Pauls.

PhD Thesis / Dissertation | Mag. art. Damir L. Sertić PhD | University Mozarteum Salzburg |

„About the Relation of Hearing Ability and Performance Quality. A research with relative and perfect (absolute) pitch pianists.“ – an extensive research project into the significance for pianists of perfect, as against relative pitch.

Summary and other research findings | Pianist Singer | Composer Songwriter