Re: Req: pitch-to-physical space mappings, refs (Sean Ferguson )

Subject: Re: Req: pitch-to-physical space mappings, refs
From:    Sean Ferguson  <ferguson(at)>
Date:    Tue, 1 Apr 1997 00:40:18 -0500

On Thu, 27 Mar 1997 Gregory J. Sandell wrote: >I have observed that I use the words "high" and "low" to my non-musician >subjects in music perception experiments, pitch is not the only or most >natural attribute that they match to this dimension. When I recently >asked several listeners to describe the timbre difference between and >oboe and English horn playing the same note, many of them would say >something of the sort, "the second one is higher". Some would insist >that this was the best descriptor even after I called their attention to >pitch space having "high" and "low" attributes. This seems to relate to my previous post (sorry to double-post so soon). If the result of the question you describe is that the subjects are saying that the English horn is higher than the oboe on the same pitch then it is a result of the relative range of the instruments. Vocally, I think that a woman singing middle "c" might be described as singing a "low" note, while a man singing the same pitch might be described as singing a "high" note. Again, to sing at the bottom or top of the vocal range requires a different setup of the physical apparatus. Although their registers are closer than those of the male and female voice (only a perfect 5th difference) perhaps with the oboe and English horn the same judgement is made by analogy, since the same pitch will be higher in the range of the English horn than the oboe. This seems to suggest that maybe the mapping isn't: pitch -> physical space but: pitch -> physical action Or, maybe better, the metaphor comes about not from how we *hear* pitch, but from how we *generate* pitch. Pretty interesting thread... Sean Ferguson Doctoral Candidate in Composition McGill University email: ferguson(at) "I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out." -Arthur Hays Sulzberger Publisher, The New York Times (1935-61)

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