aCentre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London
bChair of Acoustic and Haptic Engineering, TU Dresden
cInstitut d'Alembert - LAM, Sorbonne Université / CNRS
dComputational acoustic modeling laboratory, CIRMMT, McGill University
Results from a previous study on the perceptual evaluation of violins that involved playing-based semantic ratings showed that preference for a violin was strongly associated with its perceived sound richness. However, both preference and richness ratings varied widely between individual violinists, likely because musicians conceptualize the same attribute in different ways. To better understand how richness is conceptualized by violinists and how it contributes to the perceived quality of a violin, we analyzed free verbal descriptions collected during a carefully controlled playing task (involving 16 violinists) and in an online survey where no sound examples or other contextual information was present (involving 34 violinists). The analysis was based on a psycholinguistic method, whereby semantic categories are inferred from the verbal data itself through syntactic context and linguistic markers. The main sensory property related to violin sound richness was expressed through words such as full, round, and dense versus thin, weak, and small, referring to the perceived number of partials present in the sound. Another sensory property was expressed through words such as warm, velvety, and smooth versus strident, harsh, and tinny, alluding to spectral energy distribution cues. Haptic cues were also implicated in the conceptualization of violin sound richness.
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