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AW: Helmholtz and combination tones.


For those interested in combination-tone calculations: Chapter 43 ("Quadratic and Cubic Difference Tones") of my book "Introduction to Cochlear Waves" is based on Appendix XII ("Theory of Combinational Tones") of Helmholtz' book "On the Sensations of Tone". In my text, misprints in Helmholtz' equation for x_2(t)  are corrected, and the corresponding equation for x_3(t), containing the LCDT (lower cubic difference tone) is given.
Reinhart Frosch,
CH-5200 Brugg.
reinifrosch@xxxxxxxxxx .

----UrsprÃngliche Nachricht----
Von: hartmann@xxxxxxxxxx
Datum: 05.08.2011 03:16
An: <AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Betreff: Helmholtz and combination tones.

Dear List,

A recent post from Randy Randhawa says, "Consider that even Helmholtz

had to appeal to non-linear processes (never really described) in the
auditory system to account for the missing fundamental and combination

Because this comment raises questions about what Helmholtz did and did
not describe, I would draw attention to Appendix XII in "On the
Sensation of Tone." There Helmholtz begins with the simple harmonic
oscillator dynamical equation and adds a quadratic term to the restoring
force, clearly conceived as just the second term in an expansion in the
displacement. He solves this to first and second order in small
quantities and finds that the second order term leads to combination
tones, which could include a missing fundamental.

An interesting feature of his solution is that summation tones are much
weaker than difference tones, which agrees with observation.
Specifically, for two frequencies f1 and f2, the summation tone
amplitude goes as 1/[(f2+f1)^2-fo^2] and the difference tone amplitude
goes as 1/[(f2-f1)^2-fo^2], where fo is the natural frequency of the

Bill Hartmann

PS Singularities in the amplitudes occur because there is no damping in
the dynamical equation and resonances are unbounded.