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Psychoacoustics investigates relationships between the physical properties of sounds (waveform, spectrum, level, frequency, ...) and the way sounds are experienced (loudness, pitch, timbre, salience). The first stage of auditory perception involves spectral analysis in the cochlea, with specific time and frequency characteristics. Thereafter, analytical information is extracted by categorical perception, and holistic information (which can ambiguous, depending on context) is extracted by pattern recognition. In a psychoacoustical approach, the perception of complex tones (and hence of ordinary environmental sound sources) involves the spontaneous recognition of harmonic patterns among the pitches of audible pure tone components. Consequently, the pitch of complex tones (and even of pure tones) can be ambiguous. Pitch may be measured and perceived on continuous scales (in psychoacoustics) and categorical scales (in music); the latter case includes the recognition of both intervals (relative pitch) and notes (perfect pitch) by musicians.
KeywordsSound Pressure Level Pure Tone Basilar Membrane Categorical Perception Complex Tone
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