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Psychophysics of the basic sound dimensions: Pitch


Psychophysics of the basic sound dimensions: Pitch Perfecto Herrera Music Perception and Cognition Pitch ANSI (1973): – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Psychophysics of the basic sound dimensions: Pitch

Psychophysics of the basic sound dimensions Pitch
  • Perfecto Herrera
  • Music Perception and Cognition

  • ANSI (1973) "that attribute of auditory
    sensation in terms of which sounds may be ordered
    on a scale extending from low to high"
  • Plack (2005) The aspect of auditory sensation
    whose variation is associated with musical

Frequency perception absolute thresholds
  • 20Hz 20kHz (in young, intact hearing systems,
    16kHz in adults)
  • HF threshold permanent decrease due to
  • Ototoxic substances aspirin, quinine
  • Exposition to high levels of sound pressure
    (gt85dBSPL) for long periods of time

Components of the pitch sensation
  • Shepards double helix model pitch heigth and
  • Tones are judged to be more similar when they
    share chroma (just up to 5 kHz)
  • Both dimensions can be separately manipulated and
    different brain regions are activated accordingly

Pitch sensation thresholds
  • Region for pitch 30Hz-5000Hz
  • Highest piccolo note 4500Hz
  • First harmonic is not needed in order to generate
    a pitch sensation corresponding to that frequency
    (missing fundamental)

Pitch differential threshold
  • HF tones The JND for pitch is around 0.5 of the
    base frequency
  • But it is gt 1 for freq gt 5000Hz
  • LF tones It is better than 3

Duration and pitch
  • The dotted line is a reference indicating the
    duration of 2 cycles -gt 10 cycles are a rough

Intensity effects on pitch
  • High pitch tones tend to be perceived higher with
    high pressure, lower with low pressure
  • Low pitch tones tend to be perceived lower with
    high pressure, higher with low pressure

Subjective scale for pitch Mel
  • How far in frequency do we have to be in order to
    feel a tone as doubled in pitch?
  • m 1127 ln (1 f / 700)
  • 8kHz2840mel / 500Hz607mel
  • f 700 exp(m / 1127) - 1
  • Mel-scaling is used in signal processing to build
    filters that approximate our pitch perception

Pitch strength
  • Pitch strength is mostly determined by the
    microstructure of the waveform (the simpler, the
    strongest pitch)
  • Secondarily, the amplitude envelope has also some
    role (random-phase -gt weak pitch)

Absolute pitch
  • The ability to name a sounded pitch or to produce
    a pitch in response to a note name. Possessors of
    AP name pitches rapidly and without effort or
    conscious strategy
  • It is contrasted with relative pitch (RP), the
    ability to identify notes relative to sounded
    reference pitch(es)
  • Memory tasks find that pitch memory is
    approximately equal for possessors and
    nonpossessors of AP for delays up to one minute,
    but only AP possessors perform above chance for
    longer delays
  • Various findings implicate verbal codes
  • AP can be learned most easily during a limited
    period of development, possibly comparable to a
    critical period for language learning
  • AP involves several neurally separate
    subprocesses (pitch perception, classification,
    labelling, storage in long-term memory, retrieval
    from memory)

Pitch of pure tones
Place theories Place of maximum in basilar
membrane excitation (excitation pattern) -
which fibers are excited?
Timing theories Temporal pattern of firing -
how are the fibers firing? - needs phase locking
Place theory
Peaks in excitation
Pitch frequency of fundamental Coded by place
of excitation
Problems for a place theory Missing fundamental
No fundamental but you still hear the pitch at
200 Hz Have you ever listened to male speakers on
an old radio receptor with tiny loudspeakers? Any
The missing fundamental
  • The pitch of a tone having partials at 300, 400,
    500 and 600 Hz will be 100Hz
  • even though there is no energy present there!!!
  • Remember when you listened to small radio tuners
    with tiny loudspeakers included? The low-freq
    male speakers sounded right even though its
    impossibility to reproduce 100Hz tones
  • The brain processes the information present in
    the overtones to calculate the missing pitch.

Problems for a place theory Masking the
Unmasked complex still has a pitch of 200 Hz
Timing theory Phase-locking
Timing theory Phase-locking
Timing theory Unresolved harmonics in critical
Maybe a different kind of pitch? (residual pitch)
Pitch due to beats of unresolved harmonics
inside a CB
Problems for a temporal theory
  • Pitch sensation is strongest for low-order
    (resolved) harmonics
  • Pitch can be elicited by only two components, one
    in each ear
  • Pitch can be elicited by consecutively presented

Pattern matching models
401 2 200.5 3 133.6 4 100.25 8 50.5 602 2
301 3 200.6 4 150.5 5 120.4 6 100.3 7 82 8
75.25 12 50.1 804 2 402 3 268 4 201 5
160.8 6 134 16 50.25
  • Pitch based on resolved harmonics
  • A harmonic template is used to determine the
  • Brain estimates frequencies of resolved harmonics
    - could be by a place mechanism, but more likely
    through phase-locked timing information.
  • Then finds the best-fitting consecutive harmonic
    series to those numbers (eg 401 602 804) -gt pitch
    of 100.5
  • Divide the freq of partials by 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and
    select the highest common partial (200.5,
    200.6, 201, not 50!)

Two pitch mechanisms ? (Duplex Theory)
  • Pattern matching models have difficulty with the
    fact that unresolved harmonics have a pitch at
  • So Pattern matching models could be good as the
    main pitch mechanism
  • With repetition pitch being a separate (weaker)
    mechanism for unresolved harmonics

Two complementary mechanisms
Pattern matching mechanism
Timing-based mechanism
Pitch due to beats of unresolved harmonics