Science of Sound and Auditory Perception


This is a place to share research and scientific articles related to either the science of sound or the science of auditory perception – and any resulting discussion. A title description on your posts would be helpful. Older information that you find interesting is good too.


Human auditory perception is found to be ‘strobed’ and not continuous.

The alternation side to side is really interesting. One sixth of a second is 360 BPM. This is pretty much a reasonable max rhythm – perhaps that’s why. I wonder if the one sixth of a second rate ever change and how, or is it steady? I also wonder if it is different for different people?

Does a persons hearing strobe synch to a beat? Then could the perceiving ear be switched with a phase shift (syncopation) of 1/12 or maybe 1/24 of a second? If there is a synchronization (or phase lock), how quickly does that lock in? Could you lock in to 330 BPM, or some other beat?

The lowest perceived pitch is ~20 cps or about 1/3 the time of an auditory perception beat – three vibrations per perception strobe.


A couple of fun videos involving the physics of sound waves.

Here’s the first one, a two dimension flame grill with two audio sources, a 2-D Rubens’ tube:


And the second one on projecting a Bowditch curve (aka a Lissajous curve) using a rubber sheet over a speaker, with a tiny mirror and a laser:

This doesn’t look like it would be too hard to do.


Music Prosthetic Technology:

OK this is technology – but i think it fits the topic.
Perhaps you’ve seen the videos with this same guy playing the drums a few years back.


What would alien music sound like?!

Actually this article is more about the structure and process with the brain designed to process music. But to do this the author generates his version of alien music.

This summary report gets pretty complicated, but it’s easier to approach than the original paper in Scientific Report.

Original Paper

My question to you: Do you ever make ungrammatical music?
I do!


I like this thread… :smiley: Good stuff @Jukka


There’s a neat max4live plugin that does this.

It’s not free, but it’s fairly cheap.



Interesting thread - been meaning to update my last thesis (comparative analysis of audio spatialization techniques using surround sound headsets) with a proper statistical analysis but I’m a wee bit lazy…


For those that have access to nature publishing group, this is a good review article:



Overtone acoustic guitar-string synthesis

This guy is modifying the overtones on a guitar string with electronics and an electromagnet. Skip in about a minute and the choice of overtones chosen changes, and becomes ones that are normally less prominent.

This video is from this Synthtopia article.


Sound Design Ideas

Francis Preve presents a ‘course lecture’ on sound design. He goes through this all in a very scientific way, which fits well in this thread. The really informative part is 23 minutes long, there is an interview section after to fill an hour, so save this off and play it when you have 20 minutes or so to concentrate.

ADDED: Book mentioned by Francis Preve – “This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel Levitin (About the neuroscience behind music.)


Well, in the 90’s I was into some Fringe Science.
I also played Bass and a Polysix in a Jazz band.
Trying to hypnotize an audience with Biaural Beats was… wrong, but that’s Jazz.


This video, and others in the series, are really well-done and shows some of the science, that gets used in the design of a panel speaker. Also pretty cool that you can make a speaker that performs this well and costs so little. (There is a parts list for these in the comments for this video at youtube.)


So if you were creating musical software to make music or for sound design, you might want a way to translate descriptive language (adjectives like: neutral, restless, transparent, brilliant, ambiguous, veiled, cloudy, supple) into some sort of software detail that is understood by computer software. One method that could be part of this process is fuzzy logic.

I found these on-line sources of information for applying fuzzy logic systems specifically to musical applications.


I went to a ‘performance’(?) of this. It was quite a head trip. You’ll have to read the artice for the science of it. The basic premise is that parts of your ear vibrate when they hear a sound. So the vibration itself also produces a sound that can be recorded and amplified.

During the perfomance I went to, I was constantly second guessing whether I was hearing the sound being played through the speakers, or ‘hearing’ my own hearing. This included lots of thoughts along the lines of “I wonder if he’s made this whole thing up and successfully persuaded the audience that we can hear the sound of our ears listening…”