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December 2022

Musical pitch of two-tone complexes and predictions by modern pitch theories

Journal/Book: J Acoust Soc Am. 1979; 66: 87-99.

Abstract: Most studies of the musical pitch of harmonic tone complexes have utilized signals comparing two or more successive harmonics. The present study provides systematic data on melodic interval recognition by three musically experienced subjects with sounds whose missing fundamentals were represented by two nonsuccessive harmonics nf0,(n + m)f0, delivered to separate ears. Data were obtained in the ranges 1 less than or equal to n less than or equal to 9, 2 less than or equal to m less than or equal to 4, and 200 Hz less than or equal to f0 less than or equal to 1000 Hz. The data are interpreted in the light of three theories, the "optimum processor theory," the "virtual pitch theory," and the "pattern transformation theory." For each theory, a constraint on preformance is proposed based on interference between the "analytic" and "synthetic" pitch perception modes. The former is obtained with large spacings between harmonics, where listeners are more likely to perceive harmonics as individual tones, each having their own pitch. This degrades the listener's ability to hear the fundamental pitch.

Keyword(s): Models, Psychological|. Music|. Pitch Perception|. Psychoacoustics|

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