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Re: Silence

Dear List,

I am interested in the perception of very short silent periods.  The
title of my musical piece would be "433 ms."  It seems vital to clarify
the perceptual nature of silence in order to understand how we perceive
auditory patterns in time.

Even in a simplified situation as in basic auditory experiments, a
certain type of context is required to cause the perception of silence.
My hypothesis is that a subjectively silent period should be created by
a preceding context like a very short sound or the termination (offset)
of a continuous sound.  Silence is something to be perceived after
perceiving sound.  When the termination of a sound and the onset of
another sound are perceived in this order within a single auditory
stream, a silence should be perceived in between in order to make the
stream well-shaped.

It is indeed possible in speech perception for a silent duration to be
perceived as filled.  In music, very short sounds of percussion followed
by silent periods can represent long notes.  An analytical listening
attitude sometimes enables us to perceive silent periods in these
cases.  Probably, a synthetic attitude tends to inhibit the auditory
system from interpreting silent periods as such.

     Yoshitaka Nakajima
     Kyushu Institute of Design
     (To be a part of Kyushu University in October)

Nakajima, Y., Sasaki, T., Kanafuka, K., Miyamoto, A., Remijn, G., & ten
Hoopen, G. (2000).  Illusory recouplings of onsets and terminations of
glide tone components.  Perception & Psychophysics, 62, 1413-1425.