Timbre Recognition and Sound Source Identification
The ability to recognize many sounds in everyday soundscapes is a useful and impressive feature of auditory perception in which timbre likely plays a key role. This chapter discusses what is known of timbre in the context of sound source recognition. It first surveys the methodologies that have been used to characterize a listener’s ability to recognize sounds and then examines the types of acoustic cues that could underlie the behavioral findings. In some studies, listeners were directly asked to recognize familiar sounds or versions of them that were truncated, filtered, or distorted by other resynthesis methods that preserved some cues but not others. In other studies, listeners were exposed to novel sounds, and the build-up of cues over time or the learning of new cues was tracked. The evidence currently available raises an interesting debate that can be articulated around two qualitatively different hypotheses: Are sounds recognized through distinctive features unique to each sound category (but of which there would need to be many to cover all recognized categories) or rather, are sounds recognized through a relatively small number of perceptual dimensions in which different sounds have their own recognizable position?
KeywordsAcoustic cues Auditory memory Auditory sketching Perceptual learning Psychomechanics Resynthesis Reverse correlation Textures Timbre
DP was supported by the ANR grants ANR-10-LABX-0087 and ANR-10-IDEX- 0001-02, and by the European Research Council (ERC ADAM No. 295603).
Compliance with Ethics Requirements
Trevor Agus declares that he has no conflict of interest.
Clara Suied declares that she has no conflict of interest.
Daniel Pressnitzer declares that he has no conflict of interest.
- Backhaus VH (1932) Über die Bedeutung der Ausgleichsvorgänge in der Akustik. Z Tech Phys 13:31–46Google Scholar
- Beauchamp JW (1975) Analysis and synthesis of cornet tones using nonlinear interharmonic relationships. J Aud Eng Soc 23:778–795Google Scholar
- Benade AH (1990) Fundamentals of musical acoustics. Dover Publications, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Clark M, Luce D, Abrams R et al (1963) Preliminary experiments on the aural significance of parts of tones of orchestral instruments and on choral tones. J Aud Eng Soc 11:45–54Google Scholar
- Gray GW (1942) Phonemic microtomy: the minimum duration of perceptible speech sounds. Commun Monogr 9:75–90Google Scholar
- Helmholtz H (1877) Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik, 4th edn. F. Vieweg und Sohn, Braunschweig. English edition: Helmholtz H (1954) On the sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the theory of music (trans: Ellis AJ), 2nd edn. Dover, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Pressnitzer D, Agus T, Suied C (2015) Acoustic timbre recognition. In: Jaeger D., Jung R. (eds) Encyclopedia of computational neuroscience. Springer, New York, pp. 128–133Google Scholar
- Siedenburg K, McAdams S (2017) Four distinctions for the auditory “wastebasket” of timbre. Front Psychol 8:1747. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01747
- Suied C, Drémeau A, Pressnitzer D, Daudet L (2013b) Auditory sketches: sparse representations of sounds based on perceptual models. In: Aramaki M, Barthet M, Kronland-Martinet R, Ystad S (eds) From sounds to music and emotions. CMMR 2012. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer, Berlin/HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
- Thoret E, Depalle P, McAdams S (2017) Perceptually salient regions of the modulation power spectrum for musical instrument identification. Front Psychol 8:587. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00587
- Tomasino B, Canderan C, Marin D et al (2015) Identifying environmental sounds: a multimodal mapping study. Front Hum Neurosci 9:567. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00567
- Wedin L, Goude G (1972) Dimension analysis of the perception of instrumental timbre. Scand J Psychol 13:228–240. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9450.1972.tb00071.xCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar