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  • Continuum
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How do you hear tones?
The last edition of the German (snake-oil) HiFi-magazine AUDIO reported on some interesting recent research on hearing. They claim humanity is made up of two types of listeners: the fundamental tone hearer and the overtone hearer. They go on and say that the former is prevalently hearing with the left side of his brain and usually prefers melodic music and higher instruments (piano, violin, flute), while the latter is hearing with his ride side and favours instruments with rich timbre (voice, bassoon, cello).

There is a simple test, to find out to which class you belong. A pair of sounds is played and you decide whether the frequency is increasing or decreasing.

Here is the file: audio.de - overtone.flac
There is a total of 12 pairs. A German-speaking voice introduces each iteration and every pair is repeated once. For each sequence jot down, whether you thought the frequency to be increasing or decreasing.

Afterwards compare your results with this table:
Code: [Select]
        incr    decr
1               x
2               x
3       x        
4       x        
5       x        
6       x        
7               x
8               x
9       x        
10              x
11              x
12      x        

The more your results agree with this list, the more you are a fundamental tone hearer. If your result is the exact inverse of the above, you are a pure overtone hearer.

  • Continuum
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #1
While I don't agree with the alleged implications of the test (myself being an absolute fundamental tone hearer yet strongly preferring chromatic, timbre rich music), I find the basic idea (two types of listening) intriguing enough to warrant a discussion among a more technology inclined, sceptic crowd.

I figure posting a few test tones for an "academic" discussion should fall under fair use.

  • hawkeye_p
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #2
Interesting.

With the exception of the first pair I had the completely opposite result and hence must be overtone hearer.

Nevertheless I cannot say to prefer any of the mentioned instruments. However, harpsichord, one of my favourite instruments, tends to be in the first group, also contradicting the implications.

  • milatchi
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #3
I guess I am more of a fundamental tone hearer
"And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming." --Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven

  • kjoonlee
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #4
So, if you get totally identical results then you're using your left brain, and if you get exactly inverse results then you're using your right brain?

What does it mean if you get 7 identical results and 5 different results? Does it mean you're using both sides of the brain or does it mean you're using neither?

  • hawkeye_p
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #5
Have you performed the test?

At least Continuum and I had pretty consistent results.

  • HotshotGG
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #6
Quote
They claim humanity is made up of two types of listeners: the fundamental tone hearer and the overtone hearer


what did they just pull this out of their ass or do they have any emperical evidence? I haven't performed the test yet, but according to this I would more than likely be more left side of the brain even though psychologically I am not left brained  . I know stringed instruments have numerous overtones though. I don't understand how a noise increasing or decreasing in frequency can tell you what type of listener you are from a Psychoacoustical perspective. If I was taking a critical listening class in order to determine ascending or descending scales in music maybe.
  • Last Edit: 19 January, 2006, 05:30:14 AM by HotshotGG
budding I.T professional

  • bug80
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #7
Strange, all my results match exactly with the table, but cello has always been one of my favourite instruments because of its overtones

  • kjoonlee
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #8
Quote
Have you performed the test?

At least Continuum and I had pretty consistent results.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=358247"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I have. I tried to repeat the tune of the tones by humming, and then I decided if my hums either went down or up. I got 7 vs 5.

How do you hear tones?
Reply #9
9/12 consistency with the table - mostly fundamentals then, if that's to be trusted.

This raises an interesting issue though - I am a competent musician, and I play well by ear, but I've often been fascinated by the fact that I can hear chords very clearly, but not the constituent notes. I can recognise progressions and subtle harmonic changes, and find them quickly on the piano, but I find it very difficult to pick the notes of a chord out in isolation (ie. sing them back). I hear the 'colour' of the chord as whole but not the individual notes very well.

Wonder how this relates to the topic under discussion.

C

  • stephanV
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #10
I'm a complete fundamental tone hearer it seems, but I can't seem to find any correlation between that and the suggested instruments I'm supposed to be in favour of.
"We cannot win against obsession. They care, we don't. They win."

  • Halcyon
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #11
Quote
intriguing enough to warrant a discussion among a more technology inclined, sceptic crowd.


This is a psychoacoustics issue. It's a human science, not a technology related study (unless one models a human as a deterministic machine, which is possible, although there are still black boxes).

It requires understanding of psychophysics and psychoacoustics.

At my current level of understanding, their argument sounds rather odd. If I understand your summary of what they are claiming, I think it's mis-phrased of probably just wrong.

Humans are overtone hearers, based on the research I've read.

All humans can be fooled to hear the virtual pitch with the missing fundamental. This implies that ability to reconstruct the fundamental pitch from the overtones is built-in to the central nervous system.

Now, if they mean that in normal situations, either overtones or the fundamental is more weighted depending on the hearer, this is an interesting argument.

However, I wonder how one can make a test for it: if you remove the fundamental, it's not a normal case anymore. Same goes if you tamper with the overtones.

Now, how do you discern with untampered musical tones (with fundamental and overtones intact), which of them is the more overriding factor in pitch detection for each hearer?

fMRI might produce some data, but I'm not up-to-date whether pitch processing  has been located accurately on the cortex (it is a central nervous system processing issue, not an ear issue).

Quote
I can recognise progressions and subtle harmonic changes, and find them quickly on the piano, but I find it very difficult to pick the notes of a chord out in isolation (ie. sing them back). I hear the 'colour' of the chord as whole but not the individual notes very well.


I'm assuming you are referring to the difference between having an accurate relative pitch detection vs. having an accurate absolute pitch detection?

They are different abilities (or skills). Relative pitch can be trained practically by anyone. Absolute pitch may not (by current understanding) be trainable by everyone, but seems to be more of a inhererited trait where early training may have some influence on whether the ability manifests or not.

Or then I completely misunderstood what you were trying to say

  • mihkel
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #12
6/12...what am i 

  • Brad1981
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #13
I matched all 12 with the original poster's.
My favorite instrument is piano/organ, I like melodies, and don't like bass as much.

  • JeanLuc
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #14
Quote
They claim humanity is made up of two types of listeners: the fundamental tone hearer and the overtone hearer. They go on and say that the former is prevalently hearing with the left side of his brain and usually prefers melodic music and higher instruments (piano, violin, flute), while the latter is hearing with his ride side and favours instruments with rich timbre (voice, bassoon, cello).


As a matter of fact, the boundaries between the two extreme types of listeners are reported as being gliding.

Additionally, fundamental tone hearers are believed to be more sensible towards proper signal phase, impulse precision (transients) and "time-right" playback with low runtime differences.

Overtone heares, on the other hand, are believed to be more sensible towards tonality and more 'forgiving' towards runtime differences (e.g. between woofers and tweeters of loudspeakers) that fundamental tone hearers are particularly critical towards.

I find these results highly interesting because it involves some serious research among a group of purposedly mixed listeners like pro musicians, hobby music enthusiasts and everyday people. Measurements include EEG analysis to assess how e.g. intensely the listening cortex of each participant is working during the listening experience.

At this time, it is nothing more than enhanced basic research ... but research is pointing in the right direction IMO.
  • Last Edit: 19 January, 2006, 11:46:55 AM by JeanLuc
The name was Plex The Ripper, not Jack The Ripper

  • Continuum
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #15
Quote
This is a psychoacoustics issue. It's a human science, not a technology related study (unless one models a human as a deterministic machine, which is possible, although there are still black boxes).

Yes, you are right. The word technical was meant to allude to the means of studying this effect, that is by things like FFT-analysis or MRI, as I am less concerned with the statistical soundness or the psychological or sociological ramifications.

Quote
Humans are overtone hearers, based on the research I've read.

All humans can be fooled to hear the virtual pitch with the missing fundamental. This implies that ability to reconstruct the fundamental pitch from the overtones is built-in to the central nervous system.

Now, if they mean that in normal situations, either overtones or the fundamental is more weighted depending on the hearer, this is an interesting argument.

However, I wonder how one can make a test for it: if you remove the fundamental, it's not a normal case anymore. Same goes if you tamper with the overtones.

I'm afraid that's what they did: remove the fundamental tone. Maybe you are right in that all humans can reconstruct a missing fundamental. The conclusion of this test, however, is, that this is done to a quite varying degree.

Quote
Now, how do you discern with untampered musical tones (with fundamental and overtones intact), which of them is the more overriding factor in pitch detection for each hearer?
Without doubt, this is the more interesting question, although it appears to be quite difficult to implement a test for it. The current test can be taken by anyone in just two minutes.

Quote
As a matter of fact, the boundaries between the two extreme types of listeners are reported as being gliding.

Yes, I should have pointed that out more clearly. They give no exact numbers, but the graph is rather flat with peaks at both ends, so quite different from a random binomial distribution.

  • marq_
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #16
I got 11/12. On foobars spectral view the band narrows from the opposite direction of where the tone is said to go, so if it "goes lower", there's actually less energy on the lower end.

  • CosmoKramer
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #17
Quote
9/12 consistency with the table - mostly fundamentals then, if that's to be trusted.

This raises an interesting issue though - I am a competent musician, and I play well by ear, but I've often been fascinated by the fact that I can hear chords very clearly, but not the constituent notes. I can recognise progressions and subtle harmonic changes, and find them quickly on the piano, but I find it very difficult to pick the notes of a chord out in isolation (ie. sing them back). I hear the 'colour' of the chord as whole but not the individual notes very well.

Wonder how this relates to the topic under discussion.

C
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=358262"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I have the same ability to hear the"colour" of a chord, and I scored 12/12.

How do you hear tones?
Reply #18
Quote
Quote
I can recognise progressions and subtle harmonic changes, and find them quickly on the piano, but I find it very difficult to pick the notes of a chord out in isolation (ie. sing them back). I hear the 'colour' of the chord as whole but not the individual notes very well.


I'm assuming you are referring to the difference between having an accurate relative pitch detection vs. having an accurate absolute pitch detection?
...
Or then I completely misunderstood what you were trying to say
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=358279"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Yeah, that's not quite what I meant; sorry for the confusion. I meant that if I listen to, say, two or three voices singing in harmony, I can hear very well the intrinsic harmonic relationships and play them on the piano quite easily, yet I couldn't sing you back any of the parts in isolation (except the melody line) very easily. Oh, and the bass line - that sticks out too.

I think that relates to this test in that I could hear that the test tones played two notes at a time, yet I could only 'hear' one part. I guess this tests which one you most clearly hear when there is no clear 'lead' part.

C

  • benski
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #19
I don't feel qualified to judge my own hearing.

I scored 0/12 based on the table (exact opposite)

Audigy 2 NX, AKG K240 headphones (not that it matters)
  • Last Edit: 19 January, 2006, 04:24:49 PM by benski

  • legg
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #20
Pure overtone hearer (2/12).

I pay too much attention to voice and high frequencies. That's almost my notion of "fidelity", odd.
  • Last Edit: 19 January, 2006, 04:39:11 PM by legg

  • Gecko
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #21
Interesting. With headphones (tried two types) I match the given table 100%. With speakers I tend to say number 7 is increasing rather than decreasing. With a little concentration I can now make 7 sound either way, while from the rest I clearly favor one or the other.

I do like cello very much though.
I am not conscious of liking or not liking music the way the article claims.

  • naturfreak
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #22
6/12

  • skelly831
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #23
12/12 match with the table, yay! I can hear fundamental tones!
we was young an' full of beans

  • Continuum
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How do you hear tones?
Reply #24
Quote
I got 11/12. On foobars spectral view the band narrows from the opposite direction of where the tone is said to go, so if it "goes lower", there's actually less energy on the lower end.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=358369"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Here is a spectral view of the first pair:



Obviously, they cut off more than just the fundamental!