4aPP12. Identifying musical instruments from multiple versus single notes.

Session: Thursday Morning, December 5

Time: 11:05

Author: Gregory J. Sandell
Location: Parmly Hearing Inst., Loyola Univ., Chicago, IL 60626
Author: Michael Chronopoulos
Location: Parmly Hearing Inst., Loyola Univ., Chicago, IL 60626


These experiments investigated to what degree the identification of a musical instrument depends on change of timbre across total pitch range. Subjects were trained to recognize 12 orchestral musical instruments (natural recordings) by name. Each instrument was represented by a variety of pitches sampled regularly from the standard pitch range of that instrument. The sampling was four notes per octave, effectively forming (in musical terms) a diminished seventh chord arpeggio. First listeners identified the instruments from single note presentations taken from the arpeggios. Results showed that an instrument's identity is not equally salient across its range of notes, in ways that differ for each instrument. Next listeners were tested on a variable number of notes (N=1,2,...,7) sampled from the arpeggio presented during training in such a way that with increasing N, a greater amount of the arpeggio's total range was included. Results showed that on average, recognition improved as increasingly recognizable notes (experiment 1) were included in the arpeggio. The relationship between the rate of improvement with N and the recognizability of the single notes is explored. An auditory gestalt called ``macrotimbre'' is proposed to consider the role across-range timbre changes play in the identification of an instrument. [Work supported by NIH.]

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996