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Spectral effects in the perception of pure and tempered intervals discrimination and beats


Perception & Psychophysics 35(2): 173-185
Spectral effects in the perception of pure and tempered intervals discrimination and beats
Thresholds for discrimination between pure and tempered musical intervals consisting of simultaneous complex tones were investigated previously [in humans]. This research studied 3 questions: To what extent are these thresholds determined by the interference of just-noncoinciding harmonics? Is the beat frequency of the 1st pair of these adjacent harmonics equal to the perceived beat frequency of the tempered intervals? Are differences in discriminability at threshold representative of differences between the perceived strength of beats in supraliminal conditions? The answer to question 1 was sought investigating the effect of spectral content of the tones on the discrimination thresholds DT for the fifth and the major third. For moderately tempered fifths, DT are apparently determined mainly by the interference of the 1st pair of adjacent harmonics but for major thirds, the interference of other harmonics seems to play a role as well. Attempts were made to answer the 2nd and 3rd questions: In supraliminal conditions, both the dominantly perceived beat frequency and the perceived beat strength were determined for various spectral conditions and degrees of tempering. For both the fifth and the major third and for all spectral conditions, the dominantly perceived beat frequency was in most cases equal to the frequency difference of the 1st pair of adjacent harmonics. Comparison of the DT and the perceived strength of the beats for corresponding spectral conditions revealed that, especially for the fifth, perceived strength of beats and sensitivity to moderately tempered intervals are highly correlated.

Accession: 006459655

PMID: 6718214

DOI: 10.3758/bf03203897

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