Time-Frequency Analysis of Musical Instruments∗ Abstract.

This paper describes several approaches to analyzing the frequency, or pitch, content of the sounds produced by musical instruments. The classic method, using Fourier analysis, identifies fundamentals and overtones of individual notes. A second method, using spectro- grams, analyzes the changes in fundamentals and overtones over time as several notes are played. Spectrograms produce a time-frequency description of a musical passage. A third method, using scalograms, produces far more detailed time-frequency descriptions within the region of the time-frequency plane typically occupied by musical sounds. Scalograms allow one to zoom in on selected regions of the time-frequency plane in a more flexible manner than is possible with spectrograms, and they have a natural interpretation in terms of a musical scale. All three of these techniques will be employed in analyzing music played on a piano, a flute, and a guitar. The two time-frequency methods, spectrograms and scalograms, will be shown to extend the classic Fourier approach, providing time-frequency portraits of the sounds produced by these instruments. Among other advantages, these time-frequency portraits seem to correlate well with our perceptions of the sounds produced by these in- struments and of the differences between each instrument. There are many additional applications of time-frequency methods, such as compres- sion of audio and resolution of closely spaced spectral lines in spectroscopy. Brief discus- sions of these additional applications are included in the paper. Key words. time-frequency analysis, spectrogram, scalogram, continuous wavelet transform, fast Fourier transform, Fourier series AMS subject classifications. 65T50, 65T60, 42A01, 42A16, 94A12 PII. S0036144500382283 1. Introduction. In this paper we shall describe several different approaches to analyzing the sound of musical instruments, ranging from the classic method of Fourier to the most up-to-date methods of dynamic spectra and wavelets. These methods will be applied to sounds produced from a piano, a flute, and a guitar. Although, with the possible exception of the spectroscopy example, the results in this paper are not new, nevertheless we hope that it will provide an enlightening discussion of the mathematical analysis of music. The contents of the paper are as follows. In section 2 we review basic notions of pitch and frequency. The musical concepts here are fundamentals and overtones. Mathematically, these concepts are described via Fourier coefficients, and their role ∗Received by the editors December 8, 2000; accepted for publication (in revised form) February 6, 2002; published electronically August 1, 2002. http://www.siam.org/journals/sirev/44-3/38228.html †Department of Mathematics, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011 (almjf@iastate.edu). ‡Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI 54702–4004 (walkerjs@uwec.edu). 457

Time-Frequency Analysis of Musical Instruments∗
Abstract. This paper des cribes s everal approaches to analyzing the frequency, or pitch, content of the s ounds produced by mus ical ins truments . The clas s ic method, us ing Fourier analys is , identifies fundamentals and overtones of individual notes . A s econd method, us ing s pectro- grams , analyzes the changes in fundamentals and overtones over time as s everal notes are played. Spectrograms produce a time-frequency des cription of a mus ical pas s age. A third method, us ing s calograms , produces far more detailed time-frequency des criptions within the region of the time-frequency plane typically occupied by mus ical s ounds . Scalograms allow one to zoom in on s elected regions of the time-frequency plane in a more flexible manner than is pos s ible with s pectrograms , and they have a natural interpretation in terms of a mus ical s cale. All three of thes e techniques will be employed in analyzing mus ic played on a piano, a flute, and a guitar. The two timefrequency methods , s pectrograms and s calograms , will be s hown to extend the clas s ic Fourier approach, providing timefrequency portraits of the s ounds produced by thes e ins truments . Among other advantages , thes e time-frequency portraits s eem to correlate well with our perceptions of the s ounds produced by thes e in- s truments and of the differences between each ins trument. There are many additional applications of time-frequency methods , s uch as compres - s ion of audio and res olution of

musical concepts here are fundamentals and overtones. fas t Fourier trans form. and a guitar. paper. Key words. with the possible exception of the spectroscopy example. Ames . a flute. s calogram. ranging from the classic method of Fourier to the most up-to-date methods of dynamic spectra and wavelets. 65T50. In section 2 we review basic notions of pitch and frequency The . Introduction. S0036144500382283 1.s iam. 42A01.org/journals /s irev/44-3/38228. In this paper we shall describe several different approaches to analyzing the sound of musical instruments. these concepts are described via Fourier coefficients. s pectrogram. ‡Department of Mathematics .edu).html † Department of Mathematics . Eau Claire. 65T60. 2002. 94A12 PII. 2000.s ions of thes e additional applications are included in the . The contents of the paper are as follows. time-frequency analys is . accepted for publication (in revis ed form) February 6. IA 50011 (almjf@ias tate.edu). 2002. 42A16. http://www. the results in this paper are not new. Although. Iowa State Univers ity. nevertheless we hope that it will provide an enlightening discussion of the mathematical analysis of music. continuous wavelet trans form. publis hed electronically Augus t 1. 457 . These methods will be applied to sounds produced from a piano. Univers ity of Wis cons in–Eau Claire. WI 54702–4004 (walkerjs @uwec.clos ely s paced s pectral lines in s pectros copy Brief dis cus . Mathematically. and their role ∗Received by the editors December 8. Fourier s eries AMS subject classifications.

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