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Re: Auditory wheel

Michael H. Coen wrote:
> On 3/18/2010 6:42 PM, Gossmann, Joachim wrote:
>> Hi -
>> it seems a fairly direct auditory equivalent of a color wheel is the phenomenon of "Shepard Tones" that loop in the frequency domain.
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepard_tone
>> Best,
>> Joachim
> I considered Shepard tones in rhythm as well as Risset's variants in
> pitch.  From a preliminary trial, it seemed difficult for subjects to
> determine consistent perceptual boundaries in the cycle.
> We're interested where people innately segregate sensory inputs along
> the wheel, be it in vision or audition.  With color, these boundary
> determinations are quite repeatable.  With sound, Shepard tones seemed
> to make the problem quite difficult; it may simply be, however, that
> subjects were given insufficient exposure.

You said you don't want learned/culture effects, but isn't it true that
the "repeatable boundary determinations" in colour are culturally
determined? I remember reading some pop-anthropology about how different
cultures had different palettes, and that although some categories (red,
black, white) are very broadly used, many categorical judgments (e.g.
red-vs-orange) are highly culture-bound.

A quick and unprincipled literature search seems to confirm this, but
I'm neither an anthropologist nor a colourist so am ready to be
corrected. But I'm having trouble imagining a continuous timbre wheel
which people might 'innately' categorise, and I wonder whether it works
even in the visual analogy.

Dan Stowell
Centre for Digital Music
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road, London E1 4NS