Threshold Duration for Melodic Pitch
Broadly speaking, the pitch of sinusoidal stimuli becomes indistinct to the point of unusable when the duration of the stimulus is less than five complete cycles. The pitch of the voices of many men and some women is at and even below 100 Hz. At first sight this suggests that it takes more than 50 ms to acquire the pitch of each vowel in the speech of these people. Whereas, in point of fact, listeners can follow changes in the pitch of speech almost on a cycle-to-cycle basis. Of course, the explanation for this apparent paradox is that the pitch of the voice is mediated by the residue pitch mechanism which extracts the low pitch of a sound from its higher harmonics - harmonics that complete 25 or more cycles in 50 ms. This suggested to us that one of the important advantages of the residue pitch mechanism is that it enables the listener to extract the low pitch associated with the fundamental of a sound much faster than would be possible if the information had to be extracted from the fundamental alone. This paper presents our attempt to determine the relative advantage of the residue-pitch mechanism for acquiring low melodic pitch.
KeywordsBroadband Noise Pitch Perception Musical Scale Sinusoidal Stimulus Melody Recognition
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