Philosophical Review 106 (4):641 (1997)

Georges Rey
University of Maryland, College Park
The central point of Raffman’s discussion is to distinguish the perception, knowledge, and effability of the standard chromatic “categorical” pitch events from what she calls “nuance” pitch events—events whose individuation is more fine-grained than C-events, and which seem to resist reliable, psychologically available categorization. Thus, two pitches a quarter-tone apart may be classified as the same C-event, even though they are different N-events. Experimental evidence suggests that whereas people are quite good at recall and discrimination of C-events, they are considerably poorer with respect to N-events, and this, according to Raffman, is due to the availability of “schemas,” or conceptual “cubby-holes,” in the former but not the latter case. But this is not to say that people aren’t aware of N-events: a good deal of musical pleasure turns on appreciation of such N-events as vibrato, slides, and pitch coloration. The point is merely that “it is overwhelmingly unlikely that we have, or could have, interval schemas as fine-grained as the N-pitches and N-intervals we can hear”.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0031-8108
DOI 10.2307/2998535
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