[Harp-L] Fwd: Comb Debate

Chris Hofstader cdh@xxxxx
Wed Jul 26 07:44:18 EDT 2017


Following Tom’s nice post about comparing the same harps side by side with only the combs changed, I’m wondering if this couldn’t be automated in some way. Instead of having a number of players in front of an audience performing a subjective test that basically asks “which of these do you think is most pleasing?” It could be done with a single player repeating the same phrase (maybe a scale or something like that) but having an oscilloscope or audio spectrum analyzer making a graph of the sounds. Adjust the sounds to snap to beats perfectly and using graph theory we could simply subtract one curve from another, clip it to what audiologists tell us is in the region that a human can hear and have a curve showing us the remainder between any two of these. Repeat the same with a number of different players if the first one showed marked difference in the actual sound.

This process would do nothing to answer the question about which is more pleasing for the player or the listener as that’s subjective but it would tell us if the different comb materials have a measurable sonic difference.

In fact, as we want to measure the tonal qualities of the comb, maybe the test oughtn’t be done with a player at all but instead by using some sort of bellows system to pass air in and out of the instruments. We’re not testing the virtuosity of the player, just whether or not the comb material makes a difference so the quality of play might be another variable we can eliminate.

Happy Hacking,

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