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Re: Pitch perception shift caused by carbamazepine and yawning

John Neuhoff wrote:

> Of course there are plenty of studies that demonstrate that changes in
> loudness can influence the pitch of same-frequency tones, starting with
> the classic work of Stevens on equal pitch contours.

Such studies need to be interpreted with much caution. The often claimed
dependence of pitch on sound level simply is based on poor interpretation of
the data and should be called a scientific artefact. There definitely is an
independence of level and pitch in hearing.

When a violin plays a steady-state C4 from piano to forte, neither the
player nor an experienced listener hears a pitch shift. It can happen,
however, than an inexperienced listener says that the tone went up. This is
a typical confusion of perceptional qualities, but it has nothing to do with
limitations of our auditory system. Similarly, if somebody confuses
brightness and contrast in vision, we would not suggest that the confusion
is due to limitations of human vision.

Interestingly, the propensity to confuse level shift with pitch shift is
well reflected in some of our "natural" languages. Even such sophisticated
languages as Spanish and Swedish have no particular word for "loud". They
use the word "high" when meaning "loud". So "alto" in Spanish and "hög" in
Swedish are used both for high pitch and for high loudness.

The origin of the close association (and confusion) of the categories
"level" and "pitch" probably lies in speech. In agitated speech both go up
simultaneously, and in tired speech both go down simultaneously.


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Klassbol
web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm