Pitch & Frequency

John Simonton honcho at paia.com
Sat Jan 17 04:57:25 CET 1998

>>From my readings on Pitch vs. Frequency, Pitch is subjectively percieved
>tonicity whereas frequency is objectively measured periodicity.
I've never seen it put any more cleanly than this. Neuroscience refers to
Sensation and Perception. Brains have the incomprehensible job of
synthesizing a reality from an immeasurably high bandwidth physical world -
James' "buzzing confusion". It's useful to think of many brain processes as
compression engines, but it's a lossy compression and gives rise to
illusions in all sensory modalities.

>equal for simple waveforms, and may become more and more separated as
>the complexity of the waveform of the sound increases. One example that
>comes to mind is the piano string. ...  This is
>why pianos are tuned with what is called "stretch tuning" - screw the
>test equipment, and make it sound good.
A good example. Another good one is the "missing fundamental" phenomenon.
Many tone complexes produce the same pitch perception even when the
fundamental, the part that reason and most music theory says would produce
the perception, is removed completely. This is one of the reasons that
Pitch to anything-else converters are difficult where Frequency to anything
is pretty easy. In a real way, pitch doesn't exist except in your mind.

HotBot gave me a few hundred references for "missing fundamental". Don't
forget the quotes. Out of the first ten, five or so were pretty good.


John Simonton                  PAiA Electronics, Inc
3200 Teakwood Ln.              honcho at paia.com
Edmond OK 73013                http://www.paia.com
405-340-6300                   fax 405-340-6378

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