[LAU] re Subconscious Affecting Music

Brent Busby brent at keycorner.org
Fri Sep 3 14:25:54 UTC 2010

On Fri, 3 Sep 2010, Arvind Venkatasubramanian wrote:

> I discovered this while I was walking besides the school of philosophy 
> after completing my class in in engineering. As I was hearing to the 
> sounds of leaves and birds, I was approaching my music lab at the 
> Frost school of music. As I was about to get into my department, I 
> heard a beautiful melody from a saxophone. I kept chanting the melody 
> for sometime as I started to work on my computer. With time, I started 
> to feel the image of the melody subjectively. But I felt that to be 
> too faint to hear. I wanted it to be a bit louder and tried to turn up 
> the volume button in me. I noticed that I could not do that. Any 
> attempt that I made to turning up the level of the music only helped 
> me transposing the melody up my one or two keys (semitones). 
> Similarly, any attempt to lower the tone helped only in transposing 
> the melody down by few keys.

Drummers regularly exploit this tendency we have, to think of higher 
volume level as being subjectively perceivable as higher pitch.  A 
drummer who is working with a small number of percussion instruments 
(perhaps just one snare drum and nothing else) may use accented notes 
that are played louder than the others to create the impression that 
those notes are the "snare notes", and other fainter notes are the "bass 
drum notes".  You can take it even further to make notes of intermediate 
volume seem to be the "tom notes".  If played with appropriate feel and 
intonation, you can create something of the illusion of a whole drumset 
pattern on one drum using only volume changes.  The listener's mind will 
interpret the volume changes as pitch changes that don't really exist. 
This is even useful when a full drumset is available, because it means 
there can be implied pitch changes available alongside real ones, which 
can be interesting.

Your mind was probably just doing the same thing with the memory of the 
saxophone.  When you imagined it louder, you also imagined the pitch 
going higher.

+ Brent A. Busby	 + "We've all heard that a million monkeys
+ UNIX Systems Admin	 +  banging on a million typewriters will
+ University of Chicago	 +  eventually reproduce the entire works of
+ Physical Sciences Div. +  Shakespeare.  Now, thanks to the Internet,
+ James Franck Institute +  we know this is not true." -Robert Wilensky

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