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You are here: McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind > Publications > The mind of the listener: Acoustics, perception, and the musical experience. Do longer gestures make longer notes?

Michael Schutz (2009)

The mind of the listener: Acoustics, perception, and the musical experience. Do longer gestures make longer notes?

Percussive Notes, 47:22-28.

Is music a purely acoustic phenomenon? Although the melody to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” would be easy to identify when centered on A-440, it would become unrecognizable if transposed six octaves higher, as it would be undetectable by the human ear. While scientists could analyze this acoustic information and recognize it contains the exact melodic contour of “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” few would classify this inaudible sound as “music.” Although acoustics play an important role, in the final analysis it is not sound but the way that sound is perceived that defines the musical experience. !is article will demonstrate that sound becomes music only within the mind of the listener, an insight that is as much practical as philosophical in that it resolves longstanding disagreement over the role of gestures in controlling note duration.

acoustic, duration perception, music perception