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OFAI-TR-2003-11 ( 623kB g-zipped PostScript file,  134kB PDF file)

Asynchrony versus intensity as cues for melody perception in chords and real music

Werner Goebl, Richard Parncutt

In expressive piano performance, the performer emphasises a melody by increasing its intensity and by anticipating it by some tens of milliseconds (melody lead). In this contribution, we continue previous research on the influence of asynchrony and intensity variation on the perceived salience of a particular tone or voice with three experiments. In Experiment I, three-tone piano chords are presented with each of the three tones simultaneously manipulated in timing and intensity by up to 55 ms and +30/22 MIDI velocity units. Loudness ratings depended mainly on relative intensity and relatively little on timing (e.g., anticipated tones were sometimes rated louder than delayed ones). The lower voice was generally rated louder than the middle voice. In Experiment II, a sequence of chords produced similar results; streaming enhanced the effect of asynchrony only marginally. In Experiment III, a short musical excerpt by Chopin was presented. Again, intensity was the dominating cue. In contrast to previous findings, a melody that was both delayed and louder in intensity was rated significantly louder than a melody that was simultaneous and louder.

Keywords: melody perception, piano, asynchrony, intensity, streaming, masking

Citation: To appear in: Proceedings of the 5th ESCOM conference, Sept 813, 2003 Hanover, Germany