Dept. of Speech and Hear. Sci., WJ-10, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Previous research on musical timbre has suggested that onsets are particularly important for the perception of musical timbre; identification is poor if listeners do not hear onsets, and dimensions of MDS solutions tend to correspond to attack length. However, more recent research has demonstrated that the dynamic attributes that influence similarity judgments cannot be localized to onset transients [P. Iverson and C. L. Krumhansl, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 94, 2595--2603 (1993)]. In separate experiments, subjects rated the similarity of complete tones, the onsets of those tones, and tones with the onsets removed (remainders). Multidimensional scaling solutions revealed that judgments on all three sets of tones were quite similar, demonstrating that the attributes that influence timbre in complete tones are present both at onsets and remainders. Results from acoustic analyses suggested that similarity judgments may rely on global acoustic comparisons rather than on the isolation of specific acoustic attributes. In contrast, identification judgments may rely on specific acoustic attributes present only at the onsets. This research will be reviewed in light of new research on musical timbre perception.