So is it going to work?

Comments and questions about AP Avenue.
aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:37 am

I agree with you that, by analogy, all the similarities are there. Where it breaks down completely is in the physical composition of the input. A pitch has one and only one definitive characteristic: its frequency. Phonemes each have a whole barrel of definitive characteristics-- which is why we still don't have reliable voice-input devices for computers. Intervals are simpler, but still have more than one component.

The only legitimate comparison is color. One dimension, one input, we make categorical judgments. But then there is the problem of modality. Color, as a visual phenomenon, persists. It is a manifestation of a tangible object. Sound, as an auditory phenomenon, disappears. It is a manifestation of an intangible event.

Worse, color can be checked versus reality. That is, it signals facts which are true irrespective color. If grass is brown, it must be dead. "Dead" can be seen without reference to color. Therefore, if one is seeing dead grass, one is seeing the color brown. Conversely, if the grass is not dead, one must be seeing green. If pitch is to be checked versus reality, there must be conditions which can be observed consistently with that pitch but observable without reference to any pitch or sound.

["C" does have meaning on its own. C is the third letter of the alphabet. It is a concept with a name (and that name is "C", pronounced "see").]

Sleeper
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Postby Sleeper » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:18 am

The biggest difference between color and pitch, I think, is that our eyes have a physical mechanism for breaking down the spectrum: Some cones are sensitive to different photon energies. So, the brain is not applying categories to a single dimensional input. By the time the brain gets the optical signal, it's already been categorized. Color blindness is a problem with the eye, not the brain.

In fact, something like "yellow and blue make green" shows that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between photon energy and perceived color

If we closed our eyes and were touched somewhere on our body, in a straight line from head to toe (eg., just above the knee, on the cheek bone, the adam's apple, etc.), we would be able to identify where, far more accurately than the magical number 7 spaces. This is because even though a spot on our body is physically a single dimension, our body has distinct mechanisms for detecting touch at each spot along it (there are nerves at each point).

Does our body have a distinct mechanism in it for separating pitches? I don't think our ears do (at least not in terms of pitch class; I think some parts of the ear are receptive to different octaves). If the brain doesn't have a mechanism for it (eg., something that could show up on an MRI), it may be hopeless.

If our ears did have pitch class resonators in them and that was how our sense of hearing worked, everyone probably would have perfect pitch.

["C" does have meaning on its own. C is the third letter of the alphabet. It is a concept with a name (and that name is "C", pronounced "see").]


Those apply to the note C, and are more important. What does it matter that C is the 3rd letter of the alphabet? That knowledge will almost never come up or be useful when you read a book, or have a conversation. It's useful when looking up words in the dictionary, but even that's less useful now, on the internet (you can look up a word by typing it into Google, and never once think about what other words are nearby alphabetically). The order of the alphabet is completely arbitrary, and if it were changed it wouldn't matter much.

(Off the top of my head, one thing it does affect in conversation are idioms like "Easy as ABC", which could be meaningless if the alphabet had a different order)


On the other hand, C on a piano is one of only two white keys which is to the right of another white key. And of those two, it is the one that is next to two black keys (while F is next to three). This is important every time anyone plays anything on the piano (well, maybe left and right are switched on this piano)

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:16 am

Does our body have a distinct mechanism in it for separating pitches?

Yes. The basilar membrane and tonotopic map operate as an organic Fourier transformer. The signal is completely disassembled into the brain, which is why Diana Deutch wonders why we don't all have absolute pitch naturally. The answer is that the raw signal is psychologically reassembled into patterns before it can be comprehended as anything meaningful.

I seem to recall that, for the same reason, it is erroneous to imagine that we perceive colors because of how our sense organs handle the physical inputs. While it is true that "blue and yellow make green" (in pigment, anyway), it is also true that, without special training, tonal masses (chords, noise) are perceived as a single pitch located at the mathematical average of its component frequencies.

RockofStrength
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Postby RockofStrength » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:15 am

it is also true that, without special training, tonal masses (chords, noise) are perceived as a single pitch located at the mathematical average of its component frequencies.


Very interesting. Do you have a cite for this?

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:44 pm


lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:08 pm

An interesting though on intervals and AP:
When a person without AP hears an interval, they recognize it, then, if they know one pitch, they can calculate the other. If they have AP, they calculate the interval from the distance between the notes: e.g. if they hear a C4 and G4, they can calculate that it's a fifth between them.
Also,
aruffo wrote:it is also true that, without special training, tonal masses (chords, noise) are perceived as a single pitch located at the mathematical average of its component frequencies.

I saw the source for this, but it seems extremely strange to me. Even before I was trained or anything, I could hear a melody and the harmony, not the average of the notes. This is weird and fascinating.

BigRed
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Postby BigRed » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:26 pm

lorelei wrote:I saw the source for this, but it seems extremely strange to me. Even before I was trained or anything, I could hear a melody and the harmony, not the average of the notes. This is weird and fascinating.


...Baley reported that a number of tones, sounding together and differing by small equal increments, tend to fuse into a single resultant tone, the pitch of which corresponds to the arithmetic mean of the frequencies of the stimuli...Baley presented data for only four cases...

...If we start with a single tone and add other tones that bear no musical relation to eachother, we get confused tonal masses which are noisy and which may be regarded as noises approximately located as to pitch. The nature of these complexes as noises is most obvious when the masses are given briefly and explosively by an abrupt quick pressure on the tonometer bellows...

____________________________________________________________________________

So if I understand this correctly, by "cycles" Baley is referring to "cycles-per-second" a.k.a. Hertz... am I correct? If so, then his experiment was using intervals of less than a semi-tone!

(Which would explain why you have no trouble hearing melodies & harmonies, Lorelei; Most western music uses intervals of at least a semitone -- even those thick Jazz chords! And if you read all of those words I highlighted above, you'll see why I get the impression that his experiment isn't very musically relevant.)

lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:52 am

OK. Great that that's cleared up. I thought he meant intervals larger than a semitone.

theandresanchez
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Postby theandresanchez » Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:24 am

aruffo wrote:The only legitimate comparison is color. One dimension, one input, we make categorical judgments. But then there is the problem of modality. Color, as a visual phenomenon, persists. It is a manifestation of a tangible object. Sound, as an auditory phenomenon, disappears. It is a manifestation of an intangible event.


Color is no less an event and no more tangible than pitch. Objects do not have color, only their reflection (the light frequency that bounces off them) has (is) color. Your skin can look green, or purple, quite easily, without any change to the skin itself. Sound persists in the exact same manner as images (through stimulation of sensory organs to a particular frequency).

lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:13 am

theandresanchez wrote:Color is no less an event and no more tangible than pitch. Objects do not have color, only their reflection (the light frequency that bounces off them) has (is) color. Your skin can look green, or purple, quite easily, without any change to the skin itself. Sound persists in the exact same manner as images (through stimulation of sensory organs to a particular frequency).

I agree with this completely. But why can't people hear pitch the way they see color?

abminor
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Postby abminor » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:57 am

I disagree on this one. For me pitch is a temporal phenomenon from a psychological perspective. You don't evolve around pitch the way you do around objects that surrounds us (and hence colors). It's more the opposite, pitch are constantly changing around us.

Pitch are more like occurring for a given time span especially in music. I agree that some objects produce a constant frequency thought, but I think our sound perception is more shaped to detect pitch pitch as a changing information, a input that tells us something occurred rather that treat it like some kind of spatial information the way colors is used.

A while ago I tried to do some special exercises to change that because I thought it could be key to absolute pitch. I was maintaining several keys pressed on my electronic piano in organ mode. Once in while I was briefly releasing one of the keys and then pressing it back.

The goal was to treat my piano keys as some kind of independent sound sources so I could eventually become able to tell which part of the global sound comes from which key and therefore to treat pitch not as a changing event but as a place activated in a map of sound.

Did not persist to do that however, because I felt it could be a lost of time and I had to admit I had no clue whether it could work or not.

lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:38 am

Hmm... I've never thought of it that way. You could try to see if it works.
However, I've thought of pitch similarly to colors: while color is a characteristic of light, pitch is of sound. I do admit, though, only sound has pitch, but objects have color. They're similar, but different. Interesting opinion.

theandresanchez
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Postby theandresanchez » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:57 am

lorelei wrote:
theandresanchez wrote:Color is no less an event and no more tangible than pitch. Objects do not have color, only their reflection (the light frequency that bounces off them) has (is) color. Your skin can look green, or purple, quite easily, without any change to the skin itself. Sound persists in the exact same manner as images (through stimulation of sensory organs to a particular frequency).

I agree with this completely. But why can't people hear pitch the way they see color?


My opinion:

1. Sight is a human being's primary sense. It is what we rely on the most. Color matters to life. Pitch does not matter. We therefore pay attention (on a subconscious level) to color, but mostly ignore pitch.

2. We are constantly exposed to wide variety of colors within a shifting, but stable, context. This allows us to establish clear connections. Our exposure to pitches is different.

3. On some level, we probably do.

theandresanchez
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Postby theandresanchez » Sat Jul 03, 2010 2:01 pm

abminor wrote:Pitch are more like occurring for a given time span especially in music.


I agree that some objects produce a constant frequency thought, but I think our sound perception is more shaped to detect pitch pitch as a changing information, a input that tells us something occurred rather that treat it like some kind of spatial information the way colors is used.


The traffic lights are not red, or green. Their redness or greenness is an event. It tells us something happened, not what something is. I do understand what you are saying, and on a level you are certainly right, we think of colors as stable (even though that is an illusion) while pitches as unstable (even though in the way we listen to music today, they are actually quite stable). The reason is that we have a stable light source (the sun and its artificial replacements) that keeps the environment more or less constantly bombarding your senses with similar colors within similar contexts.

The problem is that pitch doesn't really tell us anything useful. We experience it, but we can't quite link it to anything else very effectively. A C isn't anchored to anything. You know that a very high voice is probably female, or from a young male, while a low voice is from an adult male, but even that is a very broad pitch range, more along the lines of octaves, not the 12 western pitches.

If you hear a song you know well (in a stable pitch format) a pitch up, or a pitch down, you will find it somewhat different, but won't really understand why and just focus on the similarities. We likely all hear the absolute pitch in a sound, our mind just doesn't consider it important because it doesn't know what it is supposed to tell us. That may be why blind musicians are more likely to develop absolute pitch: they don't rely on visual clues while playing an instrument, so a pitch "is" a fret, or a key. Maybe.

A while ago I tried to do some special exercises to change that because I thought it could be key to absolute pitch. I was maintaining several keys pressed on my electronic piano in organ mode. Once in while I was briefly releasing one of the keys and then pressing it back.

The goal was to treat my piano keys as some kind of independent sound sources so I could eventually become able to tell which part of the global sound comes from which key and therefore to treat pitch not as a changing event but as a place activated in a map of sound.

Did not persist to do that however, because I felt it could be a lost of time and I had to admit I had no clue whether it could work or not.


I doubt that would have worked.

lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:40 am

theandresanchez wrote:1. Sight is a human being's primary sense. It is what we rely on the most. Color matters to life. Pitch does not matter. We therefore pay attention (on a subconscious level) to color, but mostly ignore pitch.

2. We are constantly exposed to wide variety of colors within a shifting, but stable, context. This allows us to establish clear connections. Our exposure to pitches is different.


If the theory that everyone has AP as a little kid and then loses it is true, then this is the reason why most people don't have AP: they ignore pitch completely. However, those few people who didn't ignore pitch didn't lose their AP. In this case, the action to be taken would be to get little kids to pay attention to pitch before they lose their AP.


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