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October 2021

Discrimination of musical instrument sounds resynthesized with simplified spectrotemporal parameters

Author(s): Beauchamp, J. W., Meneguzzi, S.

Journal/Book: J Acoust Soc Am. 1999; 105: 882-97.

Abstract: The perceptual salience of several outstanding features of quasiharmonic, time-variant spectra was investigated in musical instrument sounds. Spectral analyses of sounds from seven musical instruments (clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, violin, harpsichord, and marimba) produced time-varying harmonic amplitude and frequency data. Six basic data simplifications and five combinations of them were applied to the reference tones: amplitude-variation smoothing, coherent variation of amplitudes over time, spectral-envelope smoothing, forced harmonic-frequency variation, frequency-variation smoothing, and harmonic-frequency flattening. Listeners were asked to discriminate sounds resynthesized with simplified data from reference sounds resynthesized with the full data. Averaged over the seven instruments, the discrimination was very good for spectral envelope smoothing and amplitude envelope coherence, but was moderate to poor in decreasing order for forced harmonic frequency variation, frequency variation smoothing, frequency flattening, and amplitude variation smoothing. Discrimination of combinations of simplifications was equivalent to that of the most potent constituent simplification. Objective measurements were made on the spectral data for harmonic amplitude, harmonic frequency, and spectral centroid changes resulting from simplifications. These measures were found to correlate well with discrimination results, indicating that listeners have access to a relatively fine-grained sensory representation of musical instrument sounds.

Keyword(s): Adult. Auditory Perception/physiology. Human. Models, Theoretical. Music. Sound. Time Perception/physiology

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