The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Perception of Attributes in Real and Synthetic String Instrument Sounds

Hanna Järveläinen

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission for public examination and debate in Auditorium S4, Department of Electrical and Communications Engineering, Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland, on the 31st of January, 2003, at 12 o'clock noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-6314-9)   [530 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-6310-6)


This thesis explores the perceptual features of natural and synthetic string instrument sounds. The contributions are in formal listening experiments on a variety of features in musical sounds that have not been studied in detail previously. The effects of inharmonicity on timbre and pitch have been measured. The results indicate that the implementation of inharmonicity is not always necessary. The timbre effect is more salient in natural instruments, but for high tones a pitch difference may also be detected. Guidelines were given for compensation of the pitch effect. A perceptual study of the decaying parameters showed that large deviations from the reference value are tolerated perceptually. The studies on the audibility of initial pitch glides and dual-polarization effects provides practical knowledge that helps in the implementation of these features in digital sound synthesis. Related to expression rather than basic string behavior, the study on perception-based control of the vibrato parameters has a sligthly different background. However, all of the studied features are more or less player-controlled by different ways of plucking the string or pressing the key.

The main objective of the thesis is to find answers to current problems in digital sound synthesis, such as parameter quantization. Another aim is to gain more general understanding of how we perceive musical sounds.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 6 publications:

  1. Järveläinen, H., Välimäki, V. and Karjalainen, M., 2001. Audibility of the timbral effects of inharmonicity in stringed instrument tones. In Acoustics Research Letters Online (ARLO) 2, No. 3, pages 79-84.
  2. Järveläinen, H. and Tolonen, T., 2001. Perceptual tolerances for the decaying parameters in string instrument synthesis. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 49, No. 11, pages 1049-1059. © 2001 AES. By permission.
  3. Järveläinen, H. and Välimäki, V., Audibility of initial pitch glides in string instrument sounds. In Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference. Havana, Cuba, 17-23 September 2001, pages 282-285. © 2001 by authors. By permission.
  4. Järveläinen, H., Verma, T. and Välimäki, V., 2002. Perception and adjustment of pitch in inharmonic string instrument tones. Journal of New Music Research 31, No. 3. © 2002 by authors and © 2002 Swets & Zeitlinger BV. By permission.
  5. Järveläinen, H., Perception-based control of vibrato parameters in string instrument synthesis. Proc. International Computer Music Conference. Gothenburg, Sweden, 16-21 September 2002, pages 287-294. © 2002 by author. By permission.
  6. Järveläinen, H. and Karjalainen, M., Perception of beating and two-stage decay in dual-polarization string models. Proc. International Symposium on Musical Acoustics. Mexico City, 9-13 December 2002. © 2002 by authors. By permission.

Errata of publication 2

Keywords: perception, string instruments, sound source modeling, psychoacoustics

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© 2003 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26