Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Why Do Close Harmonies and Dissonances Sound Rougher at Low Pitches Than High Pitches?

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Why Do Close Harmonies and Dissonances Sound Rougher at Low Pitches Than High Pitches?

Article excerpt

Roughness perception of two tones received simultaneously by the ear is related to critical band, a range of frequencies in which there is competition for the same region of the cochlea in the inner ear. If two tones are wide enough apart in frequency, each will stimulate a separate region of the basilar membrane in the cochlea. The two tones will be perceived as two separate pitches because they excite separate hair cells. To the contrary, if two tones are close enough together in frequency that they fall within the critical band, the tones will interact with each other. They will stimulate some of the same regions of the basilar membrane and thereby the same hair cells. Individual pitches and individual loudness will be difficult to perceive, and the tone combination will have an inherent roughness as a result of this uncertainty. Moore gives a formula for the equivalent rectangular bandwidth (ERB) of the critical band

(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

where f is the center frequency.1

Consider the note C3 sung by one singer and the note D3 sung by a second singer, or played by an accompanying instrument. This is considered close harmony by some and dissonance by others. Here we quantify whether or not there should be a perception of roughness. …

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