Commentary on "Asynchronous Preparation of Tonally Fused Intervals in Polyphonic Music" by David Huron

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Empirical Musicology Review

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In his most recent contribution to an important and well-framed series of papers on auditory grouping and the perception of polyphonic music, David Huron seeks further evidence for his working hypothesis that J.S. Bach controls the employment of perfect consonances by desynchronizing their onsets, thereby inhibiting the perceptual fusion of polyphonic voices. However the more novel contribution of the present study would seem to be its demonstration that Bach also regulates the employment of dissonant tones by consistently desynchronizing their onsets. This finding provides the first concrete evidence for Wright and Bregman’s otherwise untested hypothesis that the control and salience of dissonance in polyphonic music are closely related to principles of auditory stream segregation (Wright, 1986; Wright & Bregman, 1987).



auditory stream segregation, auditory grouping, onset synchrony, consonance, dissonance


Empirical Musicology Review, v3 n2 (April 2008), 69-72