Effects of fundamentals and subharmonic pitches on consonance perception of complex chords
Myers, Will S.
- This study is an attempt to provide empirical evidence for two theories of consonance using musically complex stimuli: harmonicity theory first proposed by Helmholtz (1863) and a more recent theory involving subharmonics proposed by Cariani (2001). 21 musically-trained Tufts students listened to groups of four chords composed of complex tones (a four-note chord, the same chord with a fundamental ... read morepredicted by harmonicity theory added, the original chord with a lower pitch not predicted by any consonance theory added, and the original chord with a subharmonic tone predicted by Cariani's model added) and ranked them in order of dissonance. The control chord (with a low pitch not predicted by any model) was ranked as significantly more dissonant than the other three chords by participants, and the subharmonic predictions were ranked as significantly less dissonant than the harmonic predictions. These results suggest that both the harmonic series and the subharmonic series play a role in consonance perception, with the subharmonic series possibly playing a greater role. In addition, the results show that musically complex stimuli can be compared in music cognition studies and still lead to significant results, at least within a musically-trained population.read less