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Re: multidimensional scaling of timbre
This is true across a wide array of studies, from those of John Grey and
David Wessel in the 1970s to more contemporary investigations of Stephen
McAdams, Carol Krumhansl, Suzanne Winsberg, and others in the 1990s and
2000s. Furthermore, two of the primary dimensions of musical
instruments in these tasks include the temporal envelope (rise time, or
attack) and spectral envelope (centroid, center of gravity, energy
distribution, "flow", etc.). Those two dimensions seem sufficient to
organize any set of instruments, no matter how diverse (e.g. different
spectral characteristics across all classes of instruments, or just
subdividing the woodwinds). While tertiary and beyond dimensions uncover
some interesting ideas (spectral flux, attentuation of even harmonics,
"richness", spectral irregularity, f0 intensity, inharmonic energy in
the attack, etc.), their sparseness in timbre MDS literature suggests
they are more artifacts of the particular instruments at test.
Christian Kaernbach wrote:
I seem to remember that one lesson from multidimensional scaling of
timbres was that the type of dimensions found depends strongly on the
selection of the stimuli. If my memory serves me right, the similarity
data would alway yield two- to three-dimensional spaces, regardless of
whether the stimuli were quite divers (all types of instruments of the
classical orchestra) or from a narrow subgroup (say, all woodwinds).
In other words, people seem to be able to manage two to three
dimensions in their cognitive space representing the entirety of the
stimuli of a certain experiment. Is that correct, and is there a
reference referring to this phenomenon?
Thanks in advance,
Christian E. Stilp, M.S.
Wisconsin Speech Perception Laboratory
Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin
1202 West Johnson Street
Madison, Wisconsin USA 53706