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Module 2 - Psychoacoustics

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Psychoacoustics  ::   Hearing  ::   Loudness  ::   Pitch  ::   Harmony  ::   Scales


Pitch is a perception of frequency. However there is no direct relationship between pitch and frequency. Ask two different individuals to hum a particular note like "middle C" and they probably will both hum a different note. It may or may not be the frequency of what is known as "middle C"

Timbre is defined as the "tone quality of sound." It is the ability to judge two sounds dissimilar, even though they are presented to you having the same pitch, loudness, and duration. So if two trumpet players each play the same note, at the same pitch for the same amount of time, and at the same loudness, and you can perceive that there are two different sounds, then you have perceived timbre.

To successfully complete this chapter you should...

  • Read chapter 7 in your text book (pages 109 - 141).
  • Carefully study the important concepts.
  • Understand what pitch and timbre are.
  • Determine which effects will increase or decrease the apparent pitch of a pure tone.
  • Describe how we discriminate between two different tones.
  • Explain how complex tones are made up of simple tones using Fourier analysis.

Important Concepts

Pitch Scales
Pitch Discrimination
Just noticeable difference
Frequency resolution
Difference limens
Pitch of pure tones
Steven's Rule
Acoustic uncertainty principle
Pitch of complex tones
Virtual pitch
Pitch theories
Place theory
Periodicity theory
Absolute pitch
Pitch standard (A440)
Perception of timbre
Tone quality subjective
Fourier analysis of complex tones
Effects of envelope and duration on timbre
Tristimulus diagrams
Frequency vibrato
Amplitude vibrato
Blend of complex tones
Analytical listening
Synthetic listening

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, January 25). Module 2 - Psychoacoustics. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License