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Like Richard Parncutt, I too have a certain appreciation for
Ernst Terhardt's model of pitch perception. Terhardt, Stoll &
Seewann (1982) provides a remarkably succinct and successful
predictor for a lot of experimental phenomena. Anyone who has
spoken to Terhardt knows he is pretty dismissive about the
reactions to the tritone paradox -- since his model solidly
predicts it. Diana Deutsch's article in Scientific American
last year makes the whole phenomenon sound like an unaccountable
mystery -- and then cites Terhardt without showing any
understanding of his model. Regrettably, Terhardt himself is
much too aloof, and missed his opportunity to clarity things
by writing a letter to the Sci-Am editors.
On the other hand, I think Bruno has expressed some important
concerns. TSS is an *algorithm* rather than an *explanation*
of the perceptual mechanics. It would be nice to know better
why this algorithm works so well. To my knowledge no one has
ever tested the "early-childhood exposure" notion -- so integral
to Terhardt's theory of the acquisition of pitch abilities.
In my view, the most important repercussion of the tritone
paradox is that it provides an effective experimental probe for
understanding whether (and how) pitch perception is learned --
as Terhardt claims.
Incidentally, since there is nothing paradoxical about the
"tritone paradox," perhaps we should use a different term.