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OFAI-TR-2002-17 ( 48kB g-zipped PostScript file,  56kB PDF file)

The influence of relative intensity on the perception of onset asynchronies

Werner Goebl, Richard Parncutt

We address the perception of small onset asynchronies as typically found in expressive piano performance (melody lead), which is associated with differences in hammer velocity and hence loudness or salience of chord tones. In three experiments, 26 musicians heard harmonic major-sixth dyads with both tones in the range B4 to Bb5. The tones in each dyad were either both pure, both sawtooth, or both recorded acoustic piano; and either synchronous or asynchronous. First, participants adjusted the relative level of the two tones until they sounded equally loud. This resulted in roughly equal SPL for pure and piano tones, but in the sawtooth tones the higher tone was typically 6 dB more intense, possibly due to simultaneous masking among the par-tials. In the next experiment, the relative timing and loudness of the two tones were simultaneously manipulated by up to 54 ms and 20 MIDI units. The relative perceptual salience of the tones was found to depend on their relative intensity, but not on their asynchrony. Then, in a further experiment, listeners were asked whether the tones were simultaneous, asynchrony was harder to detect when the louder tone began earlier (melody lead). Two possible explanations: either musicians perceive familiar combi-nations of asynchrony and intensity difference as more synchro-nous than unfamiliar combinations, or sensitivity to synchrony is reduced in the melody-lead condition by forward masking.

Keywords: Music, Piano, Perception, Melody lead

Citation: Goebl, W., & Parncutt, R. (2002). The influence of loudness on the perception of onset asynchronies, 7th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC'2002). Sydney: to appear.