Riccardo Martinelli

Mach, Helmholtz, and the Analysis of Sounds

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Mach, Helmholtz, Tone sensations, Music perception, Gestalt psychology.

Mach greatly admired Helmholtz’s 1863 book on tone sensations, which he popularized in Austria. However, Mach also suggested some amendment. In his view, Helmholtz was wrong in assuming that a single sensory energy corresponds to each different pitch. Initially, Mach explored an alternative physiological explanation, pointing at the role of muscular sensations. Subsequently, he envisaged a more sophisticated mechanism based upon supplementary auditory sensations. Insisting, against Helmholtz, that invariant patterns recur within auditory appearance, unexpectedly Mach ended by paving the way to gestalt approaches in psychology.

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