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Preference for Harmonic Intervals Based on Overtone Content of Complex Tones

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This study investigated whether or not overtone structure generated preferential differences for harmonic intervals. The purpose of this study was to determine if the structure of a complex tone affects the perception of consonance in harmonic intervals. Prior studies suggest harmonicity as the basis for so-called “consonance” while others suggest exact ratios are not necessary. This test examined listener responses across three tonal “types” through a randomized double-blind trinomial forced-choice format. Stimuli types used full, odd, and even overtone series at three relative-magnitude loudness levels. Results revealed no effect of loudness and a generalized but highly variable trend for the even overtone series. However, some subjects exhibited a very strong preference for certain overtone combinations, while others demonstrated no preference.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society