There are many conversations out there about the fact that many music people do not “get” audio. In most cases this is correct. They are many conversations, we had some of them at this site and the reasons of the phenomena that were brought are all valid. I would like to bring another aspect to this subject that never was expressed.
We all know that music notation deals with moderation of pitch – the key signature - or raising or lowering a note by a half-tone. This is what musicians call sharp or flat and it there from beginning of times. There is more complexity in key signatures but the basics implies that if a musician plays “too sharp” then he or she hits a slightly elevated pitch of intended tone. There is nothing wrong with it, however in audio it is way more complicated.
We need to understand that a note A for instance is not 440Hz pitch but a complicated time/amplitude parabola with summit located at 440Hz. If the instrument is tuned to 440Hz, the musician take A and the summit of parabola is not at 440Hz then we say that the musician too sharp. This is how music people recognize as they operate in the world where the shape of the pitch-rolling parabola is fixed in most of the cases (some interments and human voices are able to modify it is a degree). In audio however, we have very little control over the pitch itself but we have practically unlimited control over the harmonics and therefore we can easy alter the profile of the parabola with which tone can roll to its pitch.
Music people mostly do not get it as this option is not available to them. The harmonic signature or the parabola’s profile for musicians is factored in the design of musical interments and into playing techniques. There are some techniques that allow musicians to a degree play with harmonics but no were nears as wide as we do in audio.
For musicians to have the options that we have in audio would be totally ridicules. You can see some kind of trumpeter is bringing his 3-4 versions of D trumpets to play some Baroque piece and he swears that each of them have own tonal infliction. Of cause his swears are right do, but the Trumpeter use one trumpet at time to play. Pretend the same musician is sitting in Mahler orchestra with his 6 C trumpets and blow each note on different trumpet because each of them deliver different type of brightness. Sound absurd? Well, this is what we have in audio.
In Audio playback moderates harmonics very aggressively and what the most annoying is that the rate of harmonics moderation fluctuates with the given playback setting, the dynamic range, with sound rate change and with zillion of other factors, some of them as ridicules as the state of the local power grid… As the result a playback not only can screw up the pitch (many of them do) but it will screw up harmonics in non-acoustical way and by doing that it will change the subjective perception of sharpness or flattens of the tone. I have see when a playback that playback that fasten the harmonics was perceived by music people as played too high. Interesting that music people do not feel it “too sharp” but they fell it “like too sharp”. The reason is that the pitch reference in their brains do suggests them that the pitch was accurate but they still feel that “something” is not right. The problem with them that this “something” doe not exists under normal circumstances in life sound, so they do not know how to react to expedited harmonics. How the expedited harmonics or prolong harmonics affects listening experience is another subject that I would like do not touch in here
I need to admit that there are ways for musicians to moderate harmonics event by paling the same interment. The string players could fake harmonics but those techniques are not used all time and more consider as delicacy sound effects. In audio we could easily implement a playback decision that would permanently make all music to be played in perceived “sharp” mode or to make music to be perceived “sharp” in specific dynamic range, or to go sharp in specific octave…
Rgs, Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche