The Processing of PitchCombinations
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla,California
In this chapter, we examine ways in which pitch combinations are processed by theperceptual system. We first inquire into the types of abstraction that give rise to theperception of local features, such as intervals, chords, and pitch classes. We alsoexplore low-level abstractions that result in the perception of global features, suchas contour. We next consider how combinations of features are further abstractedso as to give rise to perceptual equivalences and similarities. We discuss the rolesplayed by basic, and probably universal, organizational principles in the perceptionof musical patterns, and the contributions made by stored knowledge concerningthe statistical properties of music. We argue for the view that music is representedin the mind of the listener as coherent patterns that are linked together so as toform hierarchical structures.Other sections of the chapter are concerned with memory. We show how differ-ent aspects of musical tones are retained in parallel in separate memory systems,and that the output from these different systems is combined to determine memory judgments. We also consider the involvement of short-term memory for individualtones in our perception of tonal patterns. The final sections of the chapter concerna group of illusions that are produced by certain combinations of tones. These illu-sions have implications for individual differences in the perception of music, andfor relationships between music and speech.
II. Feature Abstraction
A. Octave Equivalence
A strong perceptual similarity exists between tones that are related by octaves; thatis, whose fundamental frequencies stand in a ratio of 2:1. Octave equivalence isimplied in the music of many different cultures (cf. Nettl, 1956). In the Western
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