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Re: Cariani's question: "What is the visual analogue of pitch?"

John Neuhoff wrote:

Stephen Handel once said that an analogy between vision and audition could
be "seductive, but misleading". In my opinion, Kubovy & Van Valkenburg's
"Pitch is to space as audition is to vision" idea has some serious

I've been thinking recently about the relation of hearing to vision as
it applies to the
perception of music, eg the "construction" by the mind of a melody, such
that when
you listen there is a sense of a highly structured whole, or of a trend
towards wholeness. In my
work, which is about computational analysis of music, I've come to find
that a useful approach is one that
analogizes from computer vision -- ie, hierarchically builds up larger
entities -- "objects" -- from low level features --
ie, things like orientational trends -- in a way that seems highly
evocative of the patterns of computation
that vision is known to imply. It's interesting to speculate that the
procedures for listening to music
might map rather gracefully from visual processes to hearing  and
perhaps even involve certain visual specializations.

It would be useful to know, in this regard, whether we possess
orientation-selective cells -- which doesn't
seem implausible. If these existed, then almost certainly some sort of
hierarchic computations would take
advantage of these.  I haven't seen any research that directly supports
this, though.

pitch::space = audition:vision strikes me as much too simple. If I'm
right in thinking that music is a kind of
auditory system analogue to vision, then there are very mny more factors
that need to be accomodated. The
most important of these, I think, are "parallelisms" -- ie, repetitions
(in structure, for instance, and potentially
at a very local level) that preserve a sense of "object constancy" -- eg
the transposiion of a rhytmically-shaped
interval or two. Even in very simple music -- like "happy birthday" --
these can be confoudedly complex for
a program to work out. It gives an indication of the complexity of the
brain the beast that regards this as a
simple entertainment must posess.

Ifr parallelism analysis corresponds to visual object constancy
analysis, then surely the analogy would go something
like this: relations-between-pitch::space =  audition:vision.

Just a few thoughts, but I'd be glad for any feedback.

-- eliot


Eliot Handelman Ph.D
Montreal, Canada