Re: Height and pitch (Daniel J Tollin )

Subject: Re: Height and pitch
From:    Daniel J Tollin  <tollin(at)PHYSIOLOGY.WISC.EDU>
Date:    Tue, 18 Feb 2003 10:36:57 -0600

Hi, >A pitch scale, however, is not bound to a vertical dimension. In Java a tone >is not something between low and high. It is something between big and >small. I don't mean to bang the same drum here, but there is also a sound localization basis for 'big' and 'small' as spatial attributes of tones. In fact, in the early days of experimental psychology, it was seriously doubted by many that the auditory system itself could localize sounds because sound didn't contain the characteristic of 'size' or extensivity (often called 'volume') like visual or tactile objects. These guys sought visual or tactile explanations for sound localization. Others argued that the sounds could indeed be localized by the auditory system and used as evidence the notion that lower frequency sounds appear larger and more extensive than higher frequency sounds which often appear smaller and more compact. That is, sounds did have 'volume.' Turns out that the spatial character of 'biggness' and 'smallness' of low and high frequency sounds is due to the presence of reflections and reverberation caused by the environments in which these sounds are produced. For example, low-frequency (particularly lateral) reflections cause a broadening of the image leading to a 'bigger' sound in terms of its 'volume', and this effect diminishes as frequency is increased.

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