This paper has consisted entirely of two different tracks the entire time, those
being what makes a sound bright or dark and
what makes a sound good or bad. What it really comes down to is this. A good sound
has all of its harmonics in tune and is without destructive interference. A bad sound
is any sound which does not fit the above criteria. The more resistance that the sound
meets with, the poorer the sound is perceived as being.
Obviously I had a bias towards brass instruments in this paper. However, I believe
that the nature of the experiments can be generalized over a large variety of sounds.
Obviously good or bad sounds are perceived, thus the judgement of these sounds is
more subjective than omnipresent. However, Japanese and Chinese listners do perceive
beauty in the sound of a trumpet or horn just as we perceive beauty in a beautifully
rendered piece played on the tamboura or the tabla. Therefore something must be somewhat
standard in the human understanding of melodious or beautiful sounds.
This standard, I believe, is simply that the overtones produced by the instrument
are well tuned and that the sound waves don't produce internal dissonance. Any instrument
which cannot be in tune with itself enough to produce at least marginally well tuned
harmonics is normally disgarded or modified to sound "better", or make the ear-brain
system less confused when the pitches are sounded.
This is all well and good, but really in the midst of all of this theory, it
may bring you to ask the eternal question "So What?"
Basically, the so what is this: If you want to make a characteristic sound of any sort,
on any acoustic instrument you care to mention, you benefit
by removing all interference that could possibly create internal sound interference.
The way you do this varies from instrument to instrument, but in brass instruments
it means moving your teeth and tounge as far out of the way as possible and opening
your throat as completely as possible, as all of these can factor into the instrument's
sound production. In a string instrument any piece of the instrument that will produce
vibrations that are not made by the strings or the sound box are counterproductive
to producing good sounds. It explains why small adjustments in the way that an instrumentalist
holds an instrument can have significant effects on the sounds the instrument produced.
I guess that it just makes sense in any reference frame that I have considered.
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