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Re: Average Pitch (?)

Kevin Austin pointed out, concerning Paul von Hippel's questioning on
"average pitch used in [Western] music" :
>>A couple of years ago, someone reported an attempt to measure the
>>distribution of pitch heights used in Western music, and wanted
>>to know what else had been done in this area.
>Sorry, I'm not sure what you're looking for ... the average, the
>distribution or the mean. The word 'pitch' is for me also not clear.
>the Palestrina Mass study deal with the notation or the frequencies?
>(fundamental or spectral).
Well, while it is obvious that there are several possible approaches,
starting from analyzing the music score alone (as Fucks did it, in a
nonetheless quite interesting study(*)), in relation to the acoustic
correlate (measurements of the respective parameters) related again to
the corresponding perceptual one (as, e.g., Diana Deutsch has been doing
with regard to Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony, hence stating a possible
discrepancy between the "noted" and the actually "perceived", which btw
does already start with transposing instruments), it might have been
clear, to me, and as you are pointing out, that the notion "Western
music" does not include the lot of music retraceable not exclusively to
some Western classic tradition (models), and even less so to its
traditional "instrument kit", that is, electroacoustic(ally modified)
music (in a wider sense).
(*) The Fucks' study, which is largely a statistical one, did, in fact,
take for the most part the 1st violin into account each
(orchestral/chamber music, Lied), proceeding from its notation ("formal
structures"), and he did, of course, clearly see it as such being a
"one-dimensional" reduction within a domain of immense dimensions. It is
nevertheless an interesting and quite extensive (basic) study (over 100
works examined), e.g. also in observing "predominant intervals" in
composers (with respect to the sample chosen), while of course being not
at all exhaustive as far as the _perception_ of music (in its phenomenal
totality) is concerned, though, that ideally might yet take all at once
the score in its entirety (if given), the acoustic _and_ the perceptual
correlate into account (plus the personal background experience of every
subject involved...).
It is an interesting point in this regard that along with the
20th-century's increasing technical possibilities music production did
shift more and more (again) towards a non-noted (and less
literally "prescriptive") creation form to which a possible (analysis)
approach, apart from technical notes, particular programs, algorithms or
generative rules (in a way replacing the score's function), in fact,
will be _descriptive_ rather anyway, e.g., in combining some
(spectro)graphical representation and a verbal description (that
ideally, for its part, might take the techn(olog)ical aspects into
account again, just as formerly those of score and instrumental
And it is clear that (not only) in view of the vast possibilities given
(not only) within electroacoustic music, the notion "pitch" alone will
never be sufficient, even with regard to an "average" one (and this is
why I'd consider sort of a "spectral centroid"-tracking quite an
interesting tool).
Alexandra Hettergott.

Alexandra Hettergott
1, avenue des Gobelins
   /boîte 23
F-75005 Paris/France
Tél/fax:   +33-(0)1-43 31 41 27
Mél:        a.hettergott@wanadoo.fr
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