By J. H Poynting and J. J. Thomson

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Additional info for A text-book of physics: Sound (Fourth Edition)

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2. 3. Here the o’s stand for impulses of the left-hand sort and the x’s represent impulses generated by the right hand. The musician, the physicist, and the casual listener will have no trouble agreeing that the repetition rate is exactly the same now as it was when the two kinds of impulse were precisely superimposed. Furthermore, the repetition rate for both these cases is exactly what would be deduced if the drummer simply stopped using his left hand at all! In other words, we all agree that the word “repetition” is to be taken literally.

However, in the high-frequency experiments, a musician will find himself describing his perception of evenly interlaced pairs of identical impulses in a way different from his reaction to the drummer’s experiments. In the previous section, the repetition rates beaten out by the drummer were heard in terms of tempo. When the pulse generator is set to give us sufficiently high repetition rates, we may expect similar phenomena to be expressed in terms of pitch. At the point where the impulses from one generator are interleaved so that they fall exactly halfway between the impulses from the other generator, we perceive the pitch of the sound to be unchanged as long as the two generators produce distinctly different-sounding impulses.

A musical acoustician must of course have a fairly good understanding of the neurophysiological processes that take place when he uses his hearing. This understanding is necessary if he is to make proper use of his sensory information. In exactly similar fashion, he must understand his electronic and mechanical research apparatus. The student of musical acoustics needs at least a smattering of the same understanding. It helps all of us to have some idea of both the usefulness and the limitations of our equipment, natural and man-made.

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A text-book of physics: Sound (Fourth Edition) by J. H Poynting and J. J. Thomson

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