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

Dear List,

I would like touch upon two messages in this thread:

(1) The debate about the theory of indispensable attributes and later developments.

Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 07:37:55 -0500
From: John Neuhoff <jneuhoff@WOOSTER.EDU>
Subject: Re: Cariani's question: "What is the visual analogue of pitch?"

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
drawbacks. See my comment on their paper:

Neuhoff, J. G. (2003) Pitch variation is unnecessary (and sometimes
insufficient) for the formation of auditory objects. Cognition. 87 (3)

Available here:

I replied to Handel with Kubovy, M. (1988). Should we resist the seductiveness of the space:time: :vision:audition analogy? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, v. 14, 318--320. John's critique received a devastating ;-) reply in Van Valkenburg, D. & Kubovy, M. (2003). In defense of the theory of indispensable attributes. Cognition, 87, 225--233.

But PLEASE do not summarize years of research and thinking with the slogan "space:time: :vision:audition". As Eliot Handelman points out (in his Jan 20 message) "it is much too simple." Of course it is. It is a caricature of the theory and does not begin to capture my/our ideas. Do take a look at Kubovy, M. & Van Valkenburg, D. (2001). Auditory and visual objects. Cognition, 80, 97--126 (as Peter Cariani kindly pointed out, some of my work is available at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~mk9y/mySite/papers.html ).

(2) The comparison of music and visual art.

Regarding Peter Cariani's comparison of visual art and music, and Pierre Divenyi's skeptical intervention on the issue (both from Jan 20), I come down on the somewhat skeptical side (although Peter's point are not easily set aside). It is one matter to try to construct analogies between vision and audition. The analogy between the two arts, however, suffers from a problem pointed out by Nelson Goodman in his "Languages of Art." He argues that music is allographic, whereas visual art is autographic. He made the distinction in the context of a discussion of the nature of notations. It is related to the observation that music cannot be forged: you could forge the *manuscript* of Beethoven's Fifth, but not the work itself. The work is allographic, because it consists of performances done in greater or lesser conformity to a score. These performances are not forgeries. And (in an ideal world) all copies of a score are identical and of relatively small value. On the other hand, you could in principle forge Renoir's TÍte de Jeune Fille (1895) --- which disappeared during WWII ( http://www.impacta.com/lostart/info.htm ) --- and pass it off as the real thing. Goodman argues that no notation of this painting (a high-resolution numerical description of pigments and surface reflectance and texture for example) --- however accurate --- confers value on the copies produced in conformance with this "score." Thus is it autographic. (A performance of a musical work is also autographic: a violinist could learn to play in the style of Fritz Kreisler, and pass off a recording of his as one made by Kreisler.) Goodman's discussion is deep and thought-provoking, and I cannot do it justice in a brief message.

Professor Michael Kubovy
University of Virginia
Department of Psychology
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