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Re: place pitch and temporal pitch

Dear Al and list

Thank you for the interesting discussions on place pitch vs temporal pitch.
>From a musicological point of view, I'm not convinced that the terms "pitch
height" vs "chroma" is so easy as it is usually described. I doubt that only
the octave has the quality attached to "pitch height". There are numerous music
styles where the quint (2:3) has that same quality and where the octave never
occurs at all. Listening to such music evoke different perceptions for people
with different cultural backgrounds. Many westerners hear modulation in
traditional music where no such is perceived by the locals.

Another interesting issue is that in many oral music cultures, songs rise
gradually several tones during performance. One georgian folk choir I met in a
small village in the Caucasus rised a forth during their performance. I did
hear that they rised but it was so smoothly that I couldn't pin-point any exact
place in the song. Neither do they mention this phenomenon themselves explicit.

Is there any comparative study of pitch and timbre perception among people
with  different music-cultural backgrounds? Then I don't mean just including
immigrants into the research, but people who has rarely or never heard western
music before?


Johan Westman
Department of Ethnomusicology
University of Bergen

Citerar Al Bregman <al.bregman@mcgill.ca>:

> 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).

> Al
> ---------------------------------------------
> 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
> have
> > "highness", but not all sounds have pitch. "Highness" is a
> sufficient
> > 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
> human
> > 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
> cities.
> >
> > 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
> >