Model Provides Insight Into How Timbre Works Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have used mathematical models—based on experiments in animals and humans—to accurately predict sound source recognition and perceptual timbre judgments by human listeners. The study is published in PLOS Computational Biology (November 2012). “Timbre” is a major contributor to humans’ ability to analyze music and recognize ... Research in Brief
Free
Research in Brief  |   January 01, 2013
Model Provides Insight Into How Timbre Works
Author Notes
Article Information
Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   January 01, 2013
Model Provides Insight Into How Timbre Works
The ASHA Leader, January 2013, Vol. 18, 33. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB8.18012013.33
The ASHA Leader, January 2013, Vol. 18, 33. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB8.18012013.33
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have used mathematical models—based on experiments in animals and humans—to accurately predict sound source recognition and perceptual timbre judgments by human listeners. The study is published in PLOS Computational Biology (November 2012).
“Timbre” is a major contributor to humans’ ability to analyze music and recognize instruments. Timbre is a hard-to-quantify concept, loosely defined as everything in music that isn’t duration, loudness or pitch. For instance, timbre comes into play when a listener can instantly decide whether a sound is coming from a violin or a piano.
The authors devised a computer model to accurately mimic how specific brain regions transform sounds into the nerve impulses that allow listeners to recognize sound types. The model was able to correctly identify which of 13 instruments was playing to an accuracy rate of 98.7 percent.
Then researchers asked 20 people to listen to two sounds played by different musical instruments, and rate how similar the sounds seemed. A violin and a cello are perceived as closer to each other than a violin and a flute.
The researchers also found that overall, wind and percussive instruments tend to be the most different from each other, followed by strings and percussions, then strings and winds. These subtle judgments of timbre quality were also reproduced by the computer model. Search doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002759.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
January 2013
Volume 18, Issue 1