#dressgate and Absolute Pitch

Thoughts and responses regarding the research at acousticlearning.com.
Juuso
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:29 am

#dressgate and Absolute Pitch

Postby Juuso » Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:47 am

Has anyone else started to ponder the similarities of Absolute Pitch and the #dressgate phenomenon that has been rampant on social media this week?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it might be a good idea to google it first.

At least two things come to mind instantly:

1) This seems to be a nice example of categorical perception – people seem to really see this as either or (not as something that is in between). Some people see it as blue and black, others as white and gold. Even people who tend to switch between the two, always see it as having one set of colors or suddenly flip to the other. There is no gradual shift, it's really either or. I suppose it is quite similar to how absolute pitchers classify tones.

2) What is happening on the visual field is this... The color of light that reaches the eye, is determined by two factors. The color or the object (what frequencies of light the surface reflects) and the color of the light that hit the object in the first place. The brain is used to deducting the color of the object regardless of the changes in color of the light. Hence whether we see a white surface in blueish light (as in daylight) or in orangeish (as in incandescent indoor lighting), we still see it as white. And that is because our brains are able to see that ok, the lighting has this color, and automatically compensates for this. Therefore we still see white as white, even though the color of light really reflecting from the surface might be quite blueish or yellow.

So how does the second one relate to Absolute Pitch? Well, it probably doesn't. But it does start an interesting speculation. What if timbre could be thought of as the equivalent to the color of the light in the analogy? Chroma would then be the equivalent of the color of the object itself. Absolute Pitch recognition would then require being able to make a distinction between the two.

And where does this lead us? Absolutely nowhere, I suppose, because even I don't really believe this theory. :) LOL

If nothing else, it's a nice speculation though.

Here are a couple more links that explain the science better than I just did:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/ ... oks-white/
http://www.wired.com/2015/02/science-on ... lor-dress/

Juuso

lorelei
Posts: 221
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:36 am

Postby lorelei » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:07 pm

1) This seems to be a nice example of categorical perception – people seem to really see this as either or (not as something that is in between). Some people see it as blue and black, others as white and gold. Even people who tend to switch between the two, always see it as having one set of colors or suddenly flip to the other. There is no gradual shift, it's really either or. I suppose it is quite similar to how absolute pitchers classify tones.

There is something similar to this- there does come a point in aural perception where a note starts sounding more and more like the note that was a half-step up from it. Quarter tones are pretty much where it switches for me, and I think it also depends on what tuning system is being used- the threshold will be different for different temperaments and can shift slightly sharp or flat depending on context.

As for what you said about the object, and in this case the dress, looking different in different lighting, I'd say that's also a case of context, as you said. There is a similar phenomenon where notes in tonal contexts play different functions in different keys and thus take on an perceptual layer rooted to the key. There's something similar to what you said in that.

Juuso
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:29 am

Postby Juuso » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:20 pm

lorelei wrote:There is a similar phenomenon where notes in tonal contexts play different functions in different keys and thus take on an perceptual layer rooted to the key. There's something similar to what you said in that.


But isn't that perceptual layer just relative pitch and how the pitch is in relation to the harmonic structure? Or does it really work so that you might actually hear a certain pitch as either F# or G depending on the context? In this case the pitch would be F# that is a bit sharp (so that it would be possible for it to resemble a G, that is a bit flat).

Come to think of it, maybe it does work that way...

In G major and D major it might be either F# or G, in Eb major it would have to be G. Because if it was F# – or Gb to be exact – it would not be Eb major but Eb minor. Which is a bit ridiculous... LOL

lorelei
Posts: 221
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:36 am

Postby lorelei » Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:16 pm

But isn't that perceptual layer just relative pitch and how the pitch is in relation to the harmonic structure? Or does it really work so that you might actually hear a certain pitch as either F# or G depending on the context? In this case the pitch would be F# that is a bit sharp (so that it would be possible for it to resemble a G, that is a bit flat).


Honestly, it can sometimes be difficult to untangle RP and AP functions- I feel like in cases like this, they really do work together. However, I wouldn't start hearing a pitch as a different pitch just out of context... if it were halfway in between I'd probably classify it as a quarter tone. What I meant are that quarter tones are generally a fuzzy area where a note has qualities from both pitches around it (at least for me).

Also, what I meant to pitches appearing different in different contexts- that's just something like a pitch behaving differently in enharmonic situations, for instance. A G in an E flat major chord will behave differently than a G in a C major chord. I know this is also an RP function, but it does colour the AP perception even if it doesn't cloud it or anything.


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