What is a melody? : on the relationship between pitch and brightness of timbre

Cousineau, Marion and Carcagno, Samuele and Demany, Laurent and Pressnitzer, Daniel (2014) What is a melody? : on the relationship between pitch and brightness of timbre. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 7: 127. ISSN 1662-5137

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Previous studies showed that the perceptual processing of sound sequences is more efficient when the sounds vary in pitch than when they vary in loudness. We show here that sequences of sounds varying in brightness of timbre are processed with the same efficiency as pitch sequences. The sounds used consisted of two simultaneous pure tones one octave apart, and the listeners' task was to make same/different judgments on pairs of sequences varying in length (one, two, or four sounds). In one condition, brightness of timbre was varied within the sequences by changing the relative level of the two pure tones. In other conditions, pitch was varied by changing fundamental frequency, or loudness was varied by changing the overall level. In all conditions, only two possible sounds could be used in a given sequence, and these two sounds were equally discriminable. When sequence length increased from one to four, discrimination performance decreased substantially for loudness sequences, but to a smaller extent for brightness sequences and pitch sequences. In the latter two conditions, sequence length had a similar effect on performance. These results suggest that the processes dedicated to pitch and brightness analysis, when probed with a sequence-discrimination task, share unexpected similarities.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
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Copyright © 2014 Cousineau, Carcagno, Demany and Pressnitzer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? pitchtimbre brightness melodies sequencescognitive neurosciencecellular and molecular neurosciencedevelopmental neuroscienceneuroscience (miscellaneous) ??
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Deposited On:
08 Feb 2014 00:03
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 14:30