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sensory consonance /dissonance' musical consonance / dissonance


This idea of the "truth of the third" is how some people may refer to the idea of unlearned dissonance has been around for a long time, coming out of the last three centuries of western european tonal music.

The third is imperfect, and the fourth is perfect, circa 1100. Somehow the fourth became dissonant. Listening to the musics of both Bulgaria and the Georgian Republic has taught me much about non-western european concepts of dissonance / consonance, and feeds my view that a number of psychoacoustic ideas are learned, and can be unlearned.

But I'm not a strong believer in a 'divine path' of "false beginnings". Webern and Schoenberg (et al) forever changed consonance / dissonance. A younger generation has grown up with other values regarding where this boundary lies, in my experience. I may hear beating, and roughness at 15Hz beating, but this is not dissonant to me, for I hear dissonance as a psychometric measurement -- it is not inherent in the acoustical signal.

My reading of the original question was that a non-cultural, non-learned metric was being sought for a cultural, learned metric.

Best wishes


Date:    Sat, 18 Aug 2007 14:38:26 +0200
From:    Martin Braun <>
Subject: Re: sensory consonance /dissonance' musical consonance / d issonance

Dear Kevin and others,

to learn something is not the biological purpose of a human brain. Its purpose is to keep up a workable equilibrium. If acoustical signals, such as music by Webern, can be of use for a brain depends on numerous things.

Neither in music nor in psychoacoustics can there be something like absolute consonance or absolute dissonance. It's always relative to something else.

The idea that consonance can be learned, and that dissonance can be unlearned, has been a popular one in some circles for quite some time. In my view this idea is just one of the many "false beginnings" that have cropped up during the course of human culture.


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Kl=E4ssbol
web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm=20


End of AUDITORY Digest - 17 Aug 2007 to 18 Aug 2007 (#2007-186)