TToW #5 : Shepard Tone

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:

Read More
TToW #4 : Auditory Scene Analysis

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...

Read More
TToW #3 : Envelope

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….

Read More
TToW #1 : Partial

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…

Read More