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Re: Auditory perceptual blocks / guides

Hi Bernard
Thanks much, I appreciate your comments
I agree with your distinction between analytical listening and interpretations based on learned patterns. And intuitively I think you are correct in linking the analytical mode to creativity.

And yes, certainly the training involves segregation, working with distractions, masking noise, clusters, and micropoliphony. At times such drills begin with a familiarization stage in which the individual components are played first before the mix comes in, allowing a kind of an old+new heuristics effect (a perceptual anchor?) 

I think that your observation about intervallic/harmonic hearing not being about auditory organization may be true. This type of organization is (also) at a higher processing level than the auditory scene analysis (as I understand it). However, the problem of learned patterns and perceptual guides is quite relevant there as well.


On 2012-11-26, at 3:00 PM, Bernard Mont-Reynaud wrote:

(Cc'd to my work email -- to keep in the thread)

I don't have a straight answer to your questions, but I found them so interesting
that I am compelled to comment. As a matter of background, I was interested in
auditory modelling since the 80's, notably heading a repeatedly NSF-funded
project at CCRMA (1980-1991) and continuing to keep an eye on the field and
developing my own thoughts. In the late 80's I was fortunate that Al Bregman
was spending a sabbatical at CCRMA, while preparing his book on Auditory
Scene Analysis, and I was perhaps the most avid audience for his thoughts
on the matter, since I was working on a computer model of audition. Anyway
the problem is quite difficult, as you know, and much research is still ahead
of us. It would surprise me if you got very good answers to your questions,
based on computer modelling, because (IMHO) people are still missing the
point on much less refined questions.

Another caveat: I have never been involved in ear training; but I did work
with sound in professional audio studios (building multi-track systems at
Lucasfilm, 82-84, Studer Editech, early 90's and at Sony SACD, early
2000's) and got to appreciate sound quality.

All this said, I'll try to give some specific comments.

On Sun, Nov 25, 2012 at 10:24 AM, eldad tsabary <tazberrydocs@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Hi all,
I am looking for some ideas and literature on two concepts relevant to ear training.

1. perceptual blocks - the case where a lack of perceptual flexibility, inability to change attentional focus, or hear at a different structural level, or any other aspect of perception, prevents ear training students from discriminating, segregating, or identifying sonic or musical parameters despite regular practice. I have used the term "perceptual block" to describe such instances, though in the literature, this term is usually associated with theories of creativity (and while I find some parallels , these concepts are quite different).

The tendency of the perceptual system(s) is to go to the highest level of interpretation that is available for the stimuli. This is the exact opposite of analytical listening. The difficulty with teaching or developing analytical listening is to overcome the ingrained habits of the perceptual system, which have vastly reinforced over time. (And this has a lot to do with creativity, which involves overcoming usual patterns of thought -- or perception.)

Does your practice involve decomposing mixtures (say A + B + C) after giving training in listening to A, B, C individually -- perhaps shortly before the mix, so you invite a state of segregation?

One of many such blocks, for example, could be (in the tonal domain) a perceptual habit that could be described, perhaps, as "tonal interference." In such cases, the students seem to listen to a certain interval in the context of previous tonal stimuli and may get thrown off by that contextual modality. A simple example of that is in listening to a minor third E-G right after hearing the major third C-E. In my experience, students often hear the minor third in the context of a C major triad and therefore hear it as having a major modality (or "feel"). 

Confusing the feel of the chord with the feel of the interval...

This is only one type of example. I am looking for any literature that deal (more widely or more specifically) with the concept of auditory organization being stuck on a certain interpretation, inhibiting skill acquisition.

I am not sure this one is some much about auditory organization as it is about training intervallic listening vs, harmonic listening. If the C chord is still ringing in the ears, the E-G interval fits right in, and may not be heard specifically as an interval, the way it would be heard "cold".

2. perceptual guides or anchors - the case where ear training students find a relatively reliable perceptual reference point that allows them to identify a certain sonic or musical parameter by comparison. An example from the tonal domain, again, may be the technique of learning how scale degrees sound by comparing them in the mind's ear to the tonic as a steady anchor. In another example, students practicing microtonal discrimination (down to about 5 cents differences) discovered that the acoustics of the room had an effect on the spatial perception of microtonal variation in pure tones. They used their spatial perception as an anchoring mechanism to recognizing microtonal differences. 

I have to go, may return to this second idea later.

Best wishes with the interesting research, and please share interesting referencers with the group,

The second example is of course very different from the first, but I am interested in both and more. I am looking for any literature that deals with perceptual organization strategies (in attentive processing) that can be used to acquire aural skills by providing a reliable reference point.

I would also love some ideas about these concepts.

Many thanks