Friday, January 9, 2015

Music is experienced constructively

One of the things I was taught in Cognitive Psychology is that all perception is constructed.  We directly sense various nuances…and construct those into complete experiences.

This is true for visual images…and it is even more true for Music, which doesn't happen at once but over time, requiring memory.  And the unique feelings that Music evokes…are of course constructed from the harmonies, rhythms, and more complex relationships.  Most of the ultimate experience comes from the mind-as-it-exists-at-the-time, which itself changes from one listening to a piece more than once.  Your memory has already grown because of the first listening by the time you start the second.  But still, most comes from many previous experiences.

So a little bit of information, taken from a very information rich source such as 16 bit PCM, is sampled, and that little bit of information is turned into far more virtual information in the complete experience…that would swamp the largest computer clusters to simulate.

The variability in experience from the same CD comes from many levels…how we choose to sample the original, and how we choose to expand on it to be come an experience.

We sample far less information than is on a CD (making sampling differences possible) but that doesn't necessarily mean that a higher resolution source, having more information still, wouldn't sample sufficiently differently to be detectable as such.

In every set of samples there are common elements.  The larger the ultimate information space, the more diffuse those common elements, and therefore the richer the possible experiences.

If information is perceivable, more information ultimately makes for noticeably richer experience the second and all subsequent times.  (This might not argue for higher sampling rates…but it would argue against all lossy compression systems.)

At the same time, much of the experience comes from state of mind, attention, need.  This is more stuff that is not really part of the recorded information.

State of mind is highly affected by belief, such as belief in strategically placed crystal resonators.  If you have the belief, you will of course experience that you need those crystals, and be sure that you need them when you don't.  And you wouldn't be lying if you said your experience was affected by them, even if they had negligible audio effect, if you had another way of knowing if they were in use.

Belief may also cause you to seek out confirmatory examples, and find alternative explanations for examples that don't confirm.

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