TToW #5 : Shepard Tone
Amazing Moments in Timbre #3
Timbre Term of the Week #5 : Shepard Tone
In post #4 about Auditory Scene Analysis, we introduced some of the ways that sound components are grouped together by the auditory system. This has many musical applications, and also lays the foundation for some interesting auditory illusions. One of the most famous is the Shepard Tone, named for cognitive scientist Roger Shepard, which creates an illusion of perpetual ascent or descent. A quick search on YouTube will turn up many examples; here is a handful:
TToW #4 : Auditory Scene Analysis
This week’s amazing moment in timbre is a bit of a mind-bender: a piano that recreates the timbre of the human voice. It’s Peter Ablinger’s Deus Cantando (2009). for a piano being played by a computer-controlled mechanical device. Watch and be wowed:
TToW #3 : Envelope
This is a spectrograph, a way of visualizing sound in which the y axis represents frequency, the x axis represents time, and darkness or colour represents concentration of energy. Looking from bottom to top shows how the sound energy is distributed on the continuum from low to high, and looking from left to right shows how that distribution changes over time...
TToW #2 : Noise
In synthesis and sound recording and mixing, envelope describes how a sound’s amplitude (volume) changes over time. When recreating the timbre of an instrument (or other sounds such as a firetruck siren), it is equally important to get the overtone series right as it is to reconstruct or preserve the contour of the sound….
Amazing Moments in Timbre #2
The word noise is a familiar everyday word that has many different meanings. Here, we are interested in its acoustical sense…
TToW #1 : Partial
Our second Amazing Moment in Timbre is another classic, but somewhat lesser-known. It’s Canadian composer and inventor Hugh Le Caine’s Dripsody (1955).
Amazing Moments in Timbre #1
Although we may perceive sounds such as musical notes as singular, self-contained units, the physical reality often suggests something very different. Most sounds we hear are actually complex mixtures of many different sound components, some of which are noisy and transient, others of which may have stable frequencies…
We’re beginning our “amazing moments in timbre” series with a true classic, György Ligeti’s paralyzingly beautiful orchestral masterpiece Atmosphères (1961)…