[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: place pitch and temporal pitch

Dear Martin, Ward, Eli, and List,

I think that the question of whether to call the perceived
difference between a 4-kHz and an 8-kHz tone "pitch" or "timbre"
is a largely verbal argument.  It would be more productive to
talk in terms of mechanism.

For those who make a distinction between "pitch height" and
"chroma", pitch height is conceived as the quality that
distinguishes a C# from the C# one octave above it,
and chroma as what distinguishes a C# from a D in any octave.
To restate those ideas, chroma - critical in western music -  is
thought to derive from the timing mechanism,  and pitch height to
come from the place mechanism.  It is thought that chroma, while
it is very precise, poops out above 4-5 kHz, since it is based on
neural periodicity, whereas pitch height, based on the place
mechanism, is imprecise but continues up to the upper limit of
hearing.  Whether we want to view the perceptual contribution of
the place mechanism as a component of pitch or of timbre is
arbitrary.  Some noise bands are perceived as higher than others.
Do you want to call that difference pitch?  You pays your money
and you takes your choice.  It partly depends on whether or not
you want to define pitch as the quality that is capable of
forming melodies (as a music theorist might do) or merely as that
quality of experience that moves continuously upward -- not
necessarily in equally discriminable steps -- with an increase in
the frequency of a stimulus (not necessarily a sinusoidal one).


Albert S. Bregman
Emeritus Professor
Psychology Dept., McGill University
1205 Docteur Penfield Avenue
Montreal, Quebec
Canada  H3A 1B1
----- Original Message -----
From: "Martin Braun" <nombraun@TELIA.COM>
Sent: Monday, March 22, 2004 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: place pitch and temporal pitch

> Dear Ward, Eli, and others,
> on Friday, March 19, 2004, Ward R. Drennan wrote:
> > I've heard 4KHz and 8KHz sinusoids and the 8KHz always sounds
higher than
> > the 4 KHz. It's not timbre--- because it's a different pitch.
> "Highness" is not a sufficient quality for pitch. All sounds
> "highness", but not all sounds have pitch. "Highness" is a
> quality for a timbre component, though.
> We should not be misled by the clean output of our lab
machinery. In
> electroacoustics, pure tones of 4 and 8 kHz are signals of one
type. In
> human hearing they are not.
> Above about 4-5 kHz pure tones lose their normal ability to
evoke relative
> or absolute pitch, and melodies can no longer be heard. For the
> auditory system such signals are reduced to tiny stimuli on the
timbre map.
> On Sunday, March 21, 2004, Israel Nelken wrote:
> > In general, I think one should be careful when invoking
natural sounds
> > since the auditory system of most mammals is pretty
generalized. Cats
> > evolved in the desert, but do extremely well in modern
> There are not many pure tones in modern cities, either. At
least not any
> that the cat couldn't well do without.
> Martin
> --------------------------------
> Martin Braun
> Neuroscience of Music
> S-671 95 Klässbol
> Sweden
> web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm