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A Perceptually Grounded Approach to Sound Analysis

A Perceptually Grounded Approach to Sound Analysis

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Studying of an algorithm for real-time audio onset detection based on a constant-Q transform. Project developed inside the project Orchestra Meccanica Marinetti, which consists of two robots playing drums, controlled by human gestures via MIDI. The developed algorithm detects the perceived attack of the sound, so that the delay between MIDI note’s generation and the sound produced by the hit on the drum can be calculated and compensated, during a live performance.
Studying of an algorithm for real-time audio onset detection based on a constant-Q transform. Project developed inside the project Orchestra Meccanica Marinetti, which consists of two robots playing drums, controlled by human gestures via MIDI. The developed algorithm detects the perceived attack of the sound, so that the delay between MIDI note’s generation and the sound produced by the hit on the drum can be calculated and compensated, during a live performance.

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Published by: Corrado Zenji Scanavino on Oct 07, 2009
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11/14/2012

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The peripheral auditory system is the medium by which sound waves are detected,
encoded, and retransmitted through nerve cells to the brain, where human can finally
render sound. Although very sophisticated, the process can be intuitively subdivided into
three steps, each accomplished into different place in the ear.

• The outer ear: amplifies and conveys incoming sound waves such as air vibration.

Here the sound waves enter the auditory canal, which can amplify sounds con-
taining frequencies in the range between 3Hz and 12 kHz. At the far end of the

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See chapter 4, Fourier Trasnform and Overlapp Add Resysnthesis, for explanation to the fact.

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See section 3.1.3. for explanations of critical bands.

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2.1 – Auditory Cognition (Reminding Psychoacoustics)

Figure 2.3: Peripheral auditory system.

auditory canal is the eardrum (or tympanic membrane), which marks the beginning
of the middle ear.

• The middle ear: transduces air vibrations into mechanical vibrations.

Sound waves, coming from the auditory canal, are now hitting the tympanic mem-
brane. Here, three delicate bones, the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and stapes
(stirrup), convert the low-level pressure eardrum sound vibrations into higher-level
pressure sound vibrations to another, smaller membrane, called the oval or ellipti-
cal window
. Finally, another ,The stapedius musclewhich has the role to prevent
damages in the inner ear. The middle ear still contains the sound information
in wave form; it is converted to nerve impulses in the cochlea. Higher pressure
is necessary because the inner ear beyond the oval window contains liquid rather
than air.

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2 – A Perceptually Grounded Approach...

• The inner ear: processes mechanical vibration and transduce them mechani-
cally, hydrodynamically and electrochemically. These are then transmitted through
nerves to the brain.

The inner ear consists of the cochlea and several non-auditory structures. The
cochlea has three fluid-filled sections, and supports a fluid wave driven by pressure
across the basilar membrane separating two of the sections. Strikingly, one section,
called the cochlear duct or scala media, contains an extracellular fluid similar in
composition to endolymph, which is usually found inside of cells. The organ of
Corti is located at this duct, and transforms mechanical waves to electric signals
in neurons. The other two sections are known as the scala tympani and the scala
vestibuli, these are located within the bony labyrinth which is filled with fluid
called perilymph. The chemical difference between the two fluids (endolymph &
perilymph) is important for the function of the inner ear.

Additional processes occur at the brain level, for example, other neural encoded in-
formations are used in order to combine signals coming from both ears and fuse them
into one sensation. However, although complex, the mechanism do not yield necessary
information to the brain to understand, for example a single note, an harmony, a rhythm,
or higher-level musical structures. It appeared that also the low-level time and frequency
perceptual mechanisms, operate both on the musical signal in parallel. Thus the de-
termination of the nature of sound is not only determined by the physical properties of
sound and human ear, but all these informations will be combined at high-level (i.e. in
the brain) where the sound takes its musical form.

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