Monday, September 17, 2007

Do you see what I hear?

Michael Schutz and Scott Lipscomb have published a study that shows how percussionists use visual cues to make audiences think notes are of different lengths, when the actual notes are the same duration. A world-class percussionist was video-taped performing long and short notes. The video was split into visual and audio components, which were then cross-matched so Long note visuals were sometimes matched with Short note audio and vice-versa. Listeners were told that some of the videos had mismatched visual and audio cues, and were instructed to judge duration solely by the sound. However, the duration ratings varied according to visual cues rather than audio cues.

This is another reason why live music creates a much different experience than an audio recording. The visual cues actively change our perception of the musical sounds, even when they are acoustically exactly the same as a recording (which is rarely the case).

Schutz, M. and S. Lipscomb. "Hearing gestures, seeing music: vision influences perceived tone duration." Perception (2007), 36/6, 888-897.


Anonymous said...

Hi Scott! Long time no see. You've been Chronicled, so expect some visitors. I'm happy to find your blog, it's right up my alley.

It makes perfect sense that there's a visual aspect to "listening" to music. After all, it's only been 100 years or so that it's common to hear and NOT see the source of the music. And music seems to be ancient... some of the oldest known human artifacts are musical instruments.

-Joe W, your ex-colleague at DPU

Scott said...

Hey Joe! How are your digs in NO? I think about you every time Katrina is mentioned.

I'll have to read some of the recent books on the influence of technology on music, to see if they mention the disconnect between audio and visual.