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Masking Effects in Practical Instrumentation and Orchestration

Abe Pepinsky

Citation: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 12, 472 (1941); doi: 10.1121/1.1902221
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Published by the Acoustical Society of America

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Masking Effects in Practical Instrumentation and Orchestration
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Trends in Acceptable Tone-Quality as Evidenced in Modern Musical Instruments

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 12, 472 (1941); 10.1121/1.1902220

and with the responseat low frequenciesaugmented, it ments, in turn, were designedto imitate desirable vocal
follows that one should know the properties of the ma- quality and that of other musical instruments. The last
terials which make up a violin in order to designone with decade has revealed a number of electronic machines
any degreeof accuracy. The following is a progressreport simulatingother instruments,and generallyusingthe pipe-
of suchan investigation.Specimensof wood in the form of organ as a prototype. Most organists resent such innova-
rectangular bars 24"X•"X•" were tested for their tions because the "stops" representing various instru-
density, elasticity and internal resistance to motion. A mental effectsdo not soundlike those of their pipe-organ.
method for separating the internal damping resistance Traditional organ-stops,however, offer themselvesonly a
from the air resistancewas developed. Some of the effects first approximation of the instruments they represent.
producedon the propertiesof wood by coating them with Musicians and laymen have in general been greatly
oils, varnishes, paints, etc., were observed. intrigued by the possibilitiesof these new music-makers.
Psycho-physicaldata also indicate that these machines
10. On the Problem of Stringing Scales for Very Small produce a nice approximation of steady-state tones. The
Pianoforte. WILLIAM BRAID WHITE, The Schoolof Piano- trained ear, however, demands at least two refinements
forte Technology. (30 min.)--In designingwhat is called the (thus far elusive) for a satisfactory reproduction of the
scale or string plan of a piano, four factors have to be characteristic effects of conventional instruments: (1)
considered: frequency, length, unit weight and tension. Differentiation of various instrumental registers,and (2)
All these are interlocked with each other, so any changein varied attack, typifying bowed, plucked or embouchure-
one involves correspondingchangesin one or all of the controlled instruments. The infinite array of tonal effects
others. The element of frequency is of course fixed. In produced by such modern musical instruments has further
the case of the very small piano, the length, in the low stimulated the cornposer's creative urge, although a
frequency part of the scale at least, is so circumscribed predilection for well-defined regionsof overtone structure
that very little manipulation is possible.Hence any effort is indicated.

to adjust the four elements so as to produce good tonal

effectsbecomesmainly the questionof how far unit weight 13. Masking Effects in Practical Instrumentation and
and tension can be readjusted to fit the requirements of Orchestration. ABE PEPINSK¾, Department of Music,
the case.The paper presentsthe author's conclusionson the University of Minnesota. (20 min.)--The relationship of
problem. one instrument to another within an ensemble and the
quality of the compositetone producedhave been empiri-
11. An Analysis of Tone Production Factors in Flute cally explored by the great composersof the past. Trial
Playing. ARNOLD SMALL AND WILLIAM V•rALDROP,State and error have played an important role here, however,
University of Iowa. (20 min.)--This study represents an and the reasons for the existence of intra- and inter-
attempt to (1) analyze those factors in tone production instrumental relationships within an ensemble which
which the flute affords and those which the player con- influencethe tonal sensationhave never been investigated.
trols, and to (2) quantify their effect upon the intensity and The effectsof maskingin the tone quality of one instrument
pitch of the flute tone. The control of tone production was in the presenceof others are herein considered.The strong
accomplishedby the alternate use of two blowing mecha- partials of one instrument influence other partials in the
nisms, one constructed in the Iowa Laboratory and the composite tone of that instrument as well as the partials
other loaned by Dr. Robert Young of the Conn Ltd. comprisingthe combined tones of the other instruments.
Laboratory. The factors found to effect tone in either or For illustration, an ensembleconsistingof a cornet,French
both of the respects studied were distance of lip opening horn, trombone, baritone and E[• tuba were selected to
to edge of blow hole, air pressure,size of lip opening, and present a simple chord in varying settings and degreesof
angle of the air stream with edge of blow hole. Measure- dynamics. The hypothesis is that masking in ensemble-
ments of the effects will be presented. These results indi- playing consistsof an accumulation of the masking effects
cated that the most basic acoustical factor involved in produced by the componentsof the complex tones. The
flute tone production was the velocity of the air stream at phono-photographicmeasurementsobtained by Seashore
the blow hole edge (and alsoprobably the percentageof the and his associateswere used to plot the strength and
stream entering the tube), the above mentioned factors distribution of the partials within the tones produced by
simply being means of varying this velocity. The control the various instruments. Total average pressuresexerted
of the air particle velocity by these means was therefore by these instruments were adapted from the data given
studied by the use of a facing or impact tube as employed by Sivian, Dunn and White. The average reference
in the Pitot tube, the results of which will also be reported. intensity level of 40 db was used to signify a medium or
mezzoforte tone level, and a sensation level of 20 db and
12. Trends in Acceptable Tone-Quality as Evidenced 60 db were chosenfor piano and forte tone levels, respec-
in Modern Musical Instruments. ABE PEeINSK¾,Depart- tively, with resultant variation in the partial strength of
ment of Music, University of Minnesota. (20 min.)--Taste each instrument in the spectral analysis. These results
in tone-quality, like style in dressand foods, is subject to indicate that chordsdo not soundas they are written, and
fad and fancy. Past epochs evidence the influence of substantiate our hypothesisin that conductorsalter the
unique instrumental tone-color on vocal timbre. Instru- intensity which the composer has assigned to various

instruments in combination to produce desirable effects. 14. The Acoustical Bases of Music Theory and Com-
In many instancesthe notesof the chord must be reassigned position. LLOYDLOAR,NorthwesternUniversity. (20 min.) m
to different instruments in order to secure good balance. This paper describesa scientific approach to chord and
Definite principles for the guidance of instrumental tone relationships that may explain their artistic use as
compositioncan thus be set up. media for esthetic expression.

FroDAY EV•.NXNG, NOV•.MB•.R 15, AT 6:30 O'CLOC•C

Main Ball Room


FroDAY EVENING, NOV•.MB•.a 15, AT 8:15 O'CnOC•:

15. Three Electrical Musical Instruments. A Demonstration Lecture by LAURENS HAMMOND.

Mr. Hammond described the technical features of the Novacord and Solovox and recent develop-
ments in the Electrical Organ. The three instruments were played as a trio using music especially
arranged for the demonstration.


Tropical Room

16. Generalized Plane Wave Horn Theory. V. SALMON, 18. The Acoustic Wattmeter, an Instrument for Measur-
Jensen Radio Manufacturing Co. (20 min.)--Horns are ing Sound Energy Flow. C. W. CLAPP A•D F. A. Fm•-
primarily used with moving coil loudspeaker units to STONE,University of Michigan. (20 min.)--An instrument
obtain sound radiators possessingsatisfactory electro- called an "acoustic wattmeter" has been constructed to
acoustic energy transfer characteristics. The contribution measuresoundenergy flow. It consistsof a crystal pressure
of the horn to the over-all efficiency, as expressedby the microphone and miniature ribbon velocity microphone
acoustic driving point admittance, will be obtained by a mounted close together and connected through separate
generalized dimensionlesstreatment of Webster's equa- amplifiers and phase equalizing networks to a thermo-
tions. Numerical solution of the differential equation for couple-type audiofrequency wattmeter. Provision is made
the pressure may be effected by the Hartree method to measure sound pressure and velocity separately as well
widely used in problems involving atomic wave functions, as the energy flow represented by their product. The
enabling an estimate of the behavior of any horn of reason- normal acoustic impedance and absorption coefficient
able flare. Some new types of horns suggestedby certain of a surface may be computed from measurementsof sound
solutions of the differential equation will be compared to energy flow into the surface and energy density near the
the well-known exponential horn. surface. Measurements were made on two representative
absorbingmaterials at normal incidence with the material
17. Uniphase Uni-Directional Microphones. BENJAMIN mounted at the end of a tube, and at random incidence
B. BAUER, Shure Brothers. (20 min.)--The uni-directional with the material on the floor of a large sound chamber.
microphone is treated as a generalized transducer and Referring all results to random incidence, the values of the
network which are subjectedto sound waves at two points absorption coefficientsobtained by the two methods agree
in space. Network relationships are derived to produce well with each other and are in fair agreement with results
uni-directional operation. These relationships are ful- obtained by the reverberation room method.
filled in the "uniphase" structure which has a single
transducer and a phase-shifting network instead of the 19. The System Concept in Electroacoustical Systems.
two transducers normally used in uni-directional micro- HU6H S. KNOWLES,Jensen Radio Manufacturing Co.
phones. Acoustical phase-shifting networks applied to a (25 min.)--The analysis of the behavior of an electro-
diaphragm-type piezoelectricmicrophoneand to a moving acoustic device is often much simplified by assuming
coil dynamic microphone producing a cardioid-type polar idealized boundary conditions. The more rigorous con-
pattern are described. sideration of the device as part of a generalized dynamica