Perceptual studies of violin body damping and vibrato.


This work explored how the perception of violin notes is influenced by the magnitude of the applied vibrato and by the level of damping of the violin resonance modes. Damping influences the "peakiness" of the frequency response, and vibrato interacts with this peakiness by producing fluctuations in spectral content as well as in frequency and amplitude. Initially, it was shown that thresholds for detecting a change in vibrato amplitude were independent of body damping, and thresholds for detecting a change in body damping were independent of vibrato amplitude. A study of perceptual similarity using triadic comparison showed that vibrato amplitude and damping were largely perceived as independent dimensions. A series of listening tests was conducted employing synthesized, recorded, or live performance to probe perceptual responses in terms of "liveliness" and preference. The results do not support the conclusion that liveliness results from the combination of the use of vibrato and a "peaky" violin response. Judgments based on listening to single notes showed inconsistent patterns for liveliness, while preferences were highest for damping that was slightly less than for a reference (real) violin. In contrast, judgments by players based on many notes showed preference for damping close to the reference value.