PAGE 1 OF 15

Deutsch's Tritone Experiments

(For a review on Shepard tones, see Chapter 1: Tonal Ambiguity and Shepard Tones).

The circular Shepard tones vividly demonstrates that height and chroma (pitch class) are not neccesarily orthogonal. For the sake of review, you can hear either ascending or descending circular shepard tones by clicking on the appropriate button below.

The primary local effect of a chromatic series of Shepard tones (i.e. what we experience at any given moment), is that they are isotropic. This means that each tone has a neighbor that sounds lower plus a neighbor which sounds higher. For instance, C has a lower neighbor of B and an upper neighbor of Db. This isotropy characterises all of the tones of the chromatic scale. To get a sense of this, click on the buttons below, to hear different Shepard tones, played in each example, first with the lower neighbor, and then with the upper neighbor.

Please read this Caveat regarding audio performance.