Segmentation (Stephen Smoliar )

Subject: Segmentation
From:    Stephen Smoliar  <smoliar(at)ISS.NUS.SG>
Date:    Wed, 15 Sep 1993 07:37:24 -0400

Al Bregman (or should I say, AL BREGMAN?) writes: > AFTER ALL, NOTES ARE ALREADY >DISTINCT UNITS BECAUSE OF THEIR AUDIBLE ONSETS. This is fine as long as those onsets ARE audible. This is usually the case with simple melodies, particularly when they are unaccompanied. After that, all bets are off. Consider the first six notes of the "Gnome" movement of PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. Played "Sempre vivo" fortissimo (as indicated) and usually played with the dampers lifted, this comes across as a single rustling gesture of sound. One those who already know the score are likely to be able to tell you how many notes there are. (Ravel further complicates the situation by giving this passage to full sections of violas, violoncellos, and contrabassi, reinforced by two clarinets, two bassoons, one bass clarinet, and one contrabassoon. If you can pick out notes played vivo across the many attacks of all those instruments, your ears must be incredibly sharp.) Also, before we get to the sorts of electronic sources which Francesco probably had in mind, we also have to contend with composers who tried to SUPPRESS the perception of onsets. The best example here would be the third ("Farben") movement of Arnold Schoenberg's "Funf Orchesterstuecke" (Opus 16). No, I think the sooner we get away from the simplifications which seem necessary to make the Lerdahl-Jackendoff system "work," the better off we shall be in trying to get a better handle on the sort of perceptual segmentation which takes place while listening to music. Stephen W. Smoliar; Institute of Systems Science National University of Singapore; Heng Mui Keng Terrace Kent Ridge, SINGAPORE 0511 Internet: smoliar(at) FAX: +65-473-9897

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