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Re: pitch neurons

Missing fundamental tones do exist in music. Once I listened to a
recording of harpsichord in a car, because the noises masked low
harmonics of harpsichord tones, the melody became purely rhythmic.
The pitch sensation elicited by unmasked, unsolved harmonics of
harpsichord tones was very weak. Harpsichord tones decay too fast
for the pitch sensation elicited by unsolved harmonics.
This masking effect would likely occur in Baroque music, as
harpsichord tones have strong harmonics at high frequencies.
This was noted by Marin Mersenne almost 3 centuries before the
invention of the car.  He explained it simply by the weak amplitude
of the later resonant part with respect to the percussive onset:
"...that's why luths emerge so little in a concert of violas, because
their percussion emerges only, rough and importunate, and the sound
of resononace is stifled because of its weakness.  The sound of
épinettes [similar to harpsicord] is likewise stifled,..." (my

Mersenne, M. (1636), Harmonie Universelle, Paris: Cramoisy (reprinted
1975, Paris: Editions du CNRS), Livre premier: des instruments,
Proposition IIII, p13.

Alain de Cheveigne'
Ircam - CNRS,
1 place Igor Stravinsky, 75004, Paris, FRANCE.
email: cheveign@ircam.fr, phone: +33 1 44 78 48 46