Analyzing Musical Sound

Stephen McAdams, Philippe Depalle and Eric Clarke

in Empirical Musicology

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167498
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199867707 | DOI:
Analyzing Musical Sound

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This chapter considers some of the tools available for analyzing musical sound from acoustical and psychoacoustical perspectives. Spectrograms are shown of various different kinds of musical sound, to demonstrate the features and limitations of this type of representation. Different ways of representing the basic attributes of sound are illustrated and discussed, the advantages of temporal and spectral representations (involving Fourier analysis) considered, and examples of analytical applications of these ideas in music are provided. The second half of the chapter discusses the perceptual analysis of musical sounds, based on widely accepted psychoacoustical principles such as auditory stream segregation. The chapter concludes with two examples of ways in which perceptual principles have been used to tackle questions of music analysis and music theory.

Keywords: spectrogram; Fourier; acoustics; psychoacoustical; psychoacoustics; perception; analysis; auditory stream

Chapter.  13679 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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