Logo IMG
HOME > My Amsci > Restricted Access

The Psychoacoustics of Harmony Perception

Restricted Access The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.

If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.

If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:


Figure%201.%20Barbershop%20quartetClick to Enlarge ImageThe perception of harmony and dissonance is universal to all cultures. Stable or unstable combinations of tones evoke the very same feelings in people who have never heard "western" music as they do for those of us who grew up on a diet of Mozart, Sondheim or The Beatles. The reason for this common perception, according to Cook, is that the major or minor modality of musical chords is a direct consequence of the complex waveform of these pitch combinations. A recently clarified understanding of the factors that contribute to the sense of harmony makes it possible to describe the relation between acoustics and evoked emotions without using the arcane vocabulary of traditional music theory.

Subscribe to American Scientist