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Re: Computational ASA -- how many sources can humans perceive?

I have heard reports that persons exist who can write down entire
orchestral scores after hearing a performance or a recording of a
performance. Certainly there is the question of time and the numbers
of times the listener/transcriber is able to listen repeatedly to
the same segment. I know from my own experience and from talking to
people who do music transcriptions from recordings, that more than
3 voices is routine for those who are practiced at it. Note that the
ear/brain system has the ability to concentrate on a single line
which is segregated by its timbral quality and push the other lines
into the background. After repeatedly listening to the same passage,
each line can be transcribed separately, and then the whole thing
can be put together. Chords can be inferred by their sounds,
although getting the exact voicing correct may not be easy.

Jim Beauchamp
Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Valeriy Shafiro wrote:
>There is also a report by David Huron (Music Perception, Vol. 19, No. 1
>(2001) pp. 1-64., or on-line
>) that estimating the number of musical lines in
>polyphonic music worsens considerably after 3.  Some anecdotal evidence
>for this limit also comes from movie sound effect designers.  This is a
>citation from Walter Murch, a renown sound effect artist: "There is a rule
>of thumb I use which is never to give the audience more than two-and-a-half
>things to think about aurally at any one moment. Now, those moments can
>shift very quickly, but if you take a five-second section of sound and feed
>the audience more than two-and-a-half conceptual lines at the same time,
>they can't really separate them out. There's just no way to do it, and
>everything becomes self-canceling." (cited from