Re: Gestalts under the pretext of Melodic consonance (Harry Erwin )

Subject: Re: Gestalts under the pretext of Melodic consonance
From:    Harry Erwin  <herwin(at)OSF1.GMU.EDU>
Date:    Wed, 12 Jul 2000 15:30:39 -0400

At 11:03 AM -0700 7/12/00, Pierre Divenyi wrote: >What I would like to add to Alexandra's philosophical/rhetorical >question is that, beyond speech and language, the necessity of >Gestalts strikes with overriding obviousness when thinking of music. >It is clear that the comprehension of a longer piece, e.g., a Mozart >symphony, or even a movement thereof, is entirely dependent upon the >perception, the short-and-long-term memory for, and the internal >organization of shorter elements -- such as themes, motifs, harmonic >progressions and digressions, etc. -- although the whole piece lasts >10 minutes or longer. This "comprehension" is a necessity for both >the listener and the performer and it is especially acute of a >problem for cyclic works, like a Wagner opera or the Liszt b-minor >sonata (which, incidentally, contains most of Wagner's mature >compositions). Because this 30-minutes piece would have no head or >tail without knowing at the very beginning where it is going, or at >the very end what it has been through, both the listener and the >performer is invited to perform some sorts of a transformation that >would telescope the dimension of time into a single point, i.e., a >method to create a spatial Gestalt. Maybe one day we could see >neurophysiological traces of such a spatial Gestalt for auditory >objects because, technological advances of recent years >notwithstanding, I think that in-depth and meaningful analysis of >30-minutes brain activity records is a pie in the sky. > >Pierre Divenyi > This will be totally off the wall, but this seems a safe place to bring it up... Might a bat perceive a flight room or other familiar space like we perceive a melodic composition? Here's something that I recently wrote based on the discussion of Erst- and Wiederorientierung in Griffin, 1958, Listening in the Dark: "The Wiederorientierung Phenomena "There are some data that provide some insight into how bats perceive their world. These were first reported by M=F6hres and =D6ttingen-Spielberg (1949) using the following terms: * Erstorientierung-the orienting reaction when bats first encounter a novel situation. * Wiederorientierung-how bats behave when they fly in a familiar space. These phenomena were observed in the behavior of a bat that was accustomed to roosting in a cage in a room. When the cage door was opened, it flew around the room for a short time and then returned to its perch. While the bat was flying, the researchers rotated the cage or removed it, and noted that the bat continued to behave as if the cage were in its normal position. This suggested that bats use and maintain a world model that is only modified to match reality if circumstances force it to reorient. "Rawson and Griffin investigated this further (Griffin, 1958, 1988), asking whether bats even needed to make their cries at all. This experiment involved placing and moving obstacles in a flight room. They found that the bat still cried, but seemed to ignore the echo returns, habituating to the original environment to a degree that large scale changes were required to trigger the orienting reaction. "The implication of this work was that bats seemed to have an internal world model-a predictive planning process-that was updated based on sensory data only when significant novelty was detected. There appears to be a match/mismatch process (Pribram, 1971) than filters the large amount of data that the bat's echolocation cries generate down to unexpected events that are likely to matter to the bat. A similar pattern of habituation to the environment is seen in most vertebrates; bats only take it further." My point is that bats seem to memorize the sound experience of flying in familiar space. I'll leave it to others to speculate. -- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Computational Neuroscientist (modeling bat behavior), Senior SW Analyst and Security Engineer, and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science, GMU. CV available at: <>

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