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Re: loud music

Hi Bill,

Interesting. But I would argue that there is another, far more straightforward explanation:

The auditory nervous system is highly nonlinear.  Nonlinear responses arise both in the cochlea 
and in the central auditory system. In humans, auditory brainstem recordings show nonlinear population 
responses to combinations of pure tones, and to musical intervals composed of complex tones. 

In nonlinear systems, gain changes the nature of the response qualitatively. The stronger the
input, the more nonlinear resonances (harmonics, subharmonics, combination tones and
integer ratios) appear. 

According to this reasoning, louder music is not just more of the same thing … it is a qualitatively
different experience. Louder music should literally lead to different patterns of resonance in the 
auditory system.


Edward Large
Associate Professor of Complex Systems and Brain Sciences
Florida Atlantic University
tel: 561.297.0106
fax: 561.297.3634
On Sep 24, 2010, at 6:05 AM, Bill Thompson wrote:

You might be interested in the following discussions of loudness. 



Bill Thompson
Professor and Head
Department of Psychology
Macquarie University
Sydney, NSW, 2109, Australia
Ph: ++61-2-9850-4083
Mobile: 0431-275-148

On 24/09/2010, at 5:28 PM, Laszlo Toth wrote:

On Thu, 23 Sep 2010, reinifrosch@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:

Old guys with undamaged hair cells have the advantage that they can fully
enjoy classical tonal music with its change from dissonant to consonant
chords and back. According to the Helmholtz consonance theory that
change is due to the presence or absence of beats generated by pairs of
partial tones of almost equal frequencies. These partials tend to be
soft, and their frequencies tend to be high.

Do you know the answer to the opposite: why is rock music more enjoyable
loud? I think that it would be important to understand.

               Laszlo Toth
        Hungarian Academy of Sciences         *
  Research Group on Artificial Intelligence   *   "Failure only begins
     e-mail: tothl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx            *    when you stop trying"