Joe's Blog

A “brief” note about sound and staccatos

August 28, 2018

This is a brief postscript to the blog entitled “Sound, Hearing, and the Brain” published in May.   In that blog I spoke of about how 1) our hearing sound as having a ‘pitch’ and 2) our hearing a sound as having a tone-color are both emergent forms added by consciousness to the physical vibrations in nature.  An emergent form is a more complex form that depends on the prior existence of less complex forms.

A danger in a staccato is that there are not enough fractions of a second during which the sound congeals in consciousness, to reveal more than the mere presence of generalized sound, but also awareness of its pitch, of timbre, and finally the overall harmonic context surrounding the note.  Presence of sound takes the shortest time to be recognized, followed by pitch, timbre and harmony.

If we want a staccato to give the ear more information than that there is sound present and it is very short in duration, then the duration of the staccato note can be no shorter than the minimum time it takes our consciousness to perceive its pitch, timbre, and placement in the harmonic environment.

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