The effect of fundamental frequency on the brightness dimension of timbre

J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Jan;121(1):383-7. doi: 10.1121/1.2384910.


The dependency of the brightness dimension of timbre on fundamental frequency (FO) was examined experimentally. Subjects compared the timbres of 24 synthetic stimuli, produced by the combination of six values of spectral centroid to obtain different values of expected brightness, and four FO's, ranging over 18 semitones. Subjects were instructed to ignore pitch differences. Dissimilarity scores were analyzed by both ANOVA and multidimensional scaling (MDS). Results show that timbres can be compared between stimuli with different FO's over the range tested, and that differences in FO affect timbre dissimilarity in two ways. First, dissimilarity scores reveal a term proportional to FO difference that shows up in the MDS solution as a dimension correlated with FO and orthogonal to other timbre dimensions. Second, FO affects systematically the timbre dimension (brightness) correlated with spectral centroid. Interestingly, both terms covaried with differences in FO rather than chroma or consonance. The first term probably corresponds to pitch. The second can be eliminated if the formula for spectral centroid is modified by introducing a corrective factor dependent on FO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Acoustics*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Music*
  • Pitch Perception / physiology*