9780851158136 / 0851158137

How We Hear Music: The Relationship Between Music and the Hearing Mechanism


Publisher:Boydell & Brewer



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About the book:

The sounds comprising music were selected by hearing. If we survey what was selected from the beginning to make simple western music, and how it developed, it raises a series of questions about intervals and scales, the tone of instruments, pitch, loudness and time, the answers to which must lie in the nature of our hearing mechanism. Not least, this review throws doubt on the role normally attributed to harmonics. A simplified account of how musical sounds are coded by the ear, and of the processing units of the brain through which they pass to the cortex, appears to provide answers to many of the questions, and offers reasons for why we are so time-sensitive. The arguments tend to the view that pitched music must have started with simple instruments rather than with the human voice. The general conclusion is that what we can hear, and the form in which we obtain the sensation of music, was determined by the paramount importance to our ancestors of knowing the direction from which sounds came.

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