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Re: Dissonance with integration?


I think you are forgetting the importance of mental states and priming in music perception. Certainly there are biological "bottom-up" processes that you suggest below, but i think we are using the same words in different languages here...

"Pitch" and "chroma" to me are nameable bits of musical information - without higher order cognitive functions, pitch and chroma cannot be categorized or sorted -- or indeed, even recognized. species with more highly developed cognitive function have octave recognition, others do not... it's escaping me who did the study on Tamarins' preferences for consonance/dissonance...

i think you are referring to the auditory system's capability of extracting surface-level features such as frequency relationships and harmonicity -- "Pitch" is a cultural phenomenon, as Kevin has suggested. Frequencies and harmonic relationships are, more or less "physics" that is processed by the auditory pathway until its arrival at the auditory cortex.

speaking of which -- have you read the paper about plasticity in tonotopic maps? perhaps this has something to do with perception about consonance and dissonance. i'll see if i can find it... the finding was that in A1 the tonotopic map is not organized as once thought, is different across individuals, and has L/R/ lateralization differences...

are we speaking about consonance as "Harmonically related" and dissonance as "not harmonically related"? i can see that as a point of confusion between disciplines.

I agree that there are hard-wired responses to acoustic phenomena (fight/flight/etc), but music is, for the most part, unnatural. Using comparisons to animal calls is interesting, but at the end of the day, not the same thing. without cognitive processes such as memory, music perception would be fleeting. Mental state has as much to do with receiving musical information as the timbral content of the sound... regardless of the style or level of dissonance the particular culture has imparted on particular organizations of sounds -- also a "top-down" process.

i guess i'm confused as to why it can't be looked at both ways...


On Sat, 25 Sep 2010, Martin Braun wrote:

"As I understand it, the first level of nerves from cochlea to brain are something like the telephone wires that run by my house. Do they interpret the impulses or [simply] transmit them?"

Before musical information reaches the "language top" of the brain (same level as manages phonemes) the "lower machinery" has already extracted pitch, consonance, dissonance, chroma, and nearly all of the "emotional byproducts". In fact, if it was possible to black out the products of the "lower machinery" (say, by anesthesia), the "language top" of the brain would have no cue whatsoever that it was music that was in the air.

"I'm not sure what would make a memory chip happy or sad."

If a chip has the same life span with noise as with music, I would regard it as being equally happy with either. Just yesterday I learned that in East Germany average life span of humans has increased by six years after Communism's fall in 1989. Here the noise before 1989 was not so much an acoustic one, of course.


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Klässbol
email: nombraun@xxxxxxxxx
web site: http://www.neuroscience-of-music.se/index.htm

----- Original Message ----- From: "Kevin Austin" <kevin.austin@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Martin Braun" <nombraun@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: <AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2010 9:13 PM
Subject: Dissonance with integration?

matthew mccabe <mccabem@xxxxxxx>
visiting assistant professor / music tech :: columbus state university
ph.d., music composition :: uf college of fine arts
lab member :: reilly cognition and language lab :: uf phhp
http://plaza.ufl.edu/mccabem/     http://www.euph0r1a.net/