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Tritone Paradox

In the tritone paradox, a pair of tones is played, one after the other. The tones are computer generated, and have been prepared in such a way that it is not immediately clear in which octave either tone lies.

  1. To download the sounds for this section, click on the following online link.

  2. If you are using speakers, have each person in your group prepare to record his/her impressions. If you are using headphones, each person in the group should take turns listening to the recording. Before commencing the tests below, have your instructor adjust the volume so that the sound clips are heard at a comfortable level, which should, if anything, be on the soft side of comfortable listening.

  3. You will hear 6 pairs of tones, one pair after the other. For each pair, try to determine which of the two tones is higher in pitch. If the first tone is higher, write a downward arrow to indicate the tone pair forms a descending pattern. If, however, the second tone is higher, write an upward arrow to indicate the tone pair forms an ascending pattern.

  4. You may wish to play the recording more than once to be sure of your observations.

  5. After everyone in your group has listened to the clip and recorded observations, compare your results. Did all members of the group hear the tone pairs in the same way?

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Download mus_illus.pdf

``Musical Illusions and Paradoxes Lab'', by Ryan J. Cassidy and Julius O. Smith III,
REALSIMPLE Project — work supported by the Wallenberg Global Learning Network .
Released 2008-06-05 under the Creative Commons License (Attribution 2.5), by Ryan J. Cassidy and Julius O. Smith III
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA),   Stanford University