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Phantom Words and Other Curiosities

by Diana Deutsch

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    Information Regarding Electronic CDs from Philomel Records :
    This download includes the same materials (sounds, commentaries, and booklet) as are contained in the physical CD "Phantom Words and Other Curiosities". The booklet is provided in PDF format and can be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper. The audio files provided here are in 16-bit, 44.1KHz PCM WAV format, and so are identical in quality to the CDs. In contrast, the MP3 sound examples posted on the internet are of lower quality. In particular, if you are using the examples in a formal experiment, they should be of CD quality.
    Technical Note:
    In listening to the audio, it is best to use equipment with a flat frequency response, so as to avoid spectral distortion. Features that alter the signal in any way, such as spatialization features, should be turned off. Compression algorithms should be avoided, in particular for the stereo illusions. And make sure that the playback amplitude is not too high. You might need to adjust the amplitude separately for listening either through loudspeakers or through headphones. If at all possible, use headphones when these are suggested, and use loudspeakers when these are suggested. It is best that loudspeakers be full sized so as to ensure optimal fidelity, particularly for the low frequency components. When listening to the stereo illusions through loudspeakers, it is best to have the speakers in front of you, and to be positioned equidistant between them, with one to your left and the other to your right. If possible, the illusions should be heard in a room with plenty of carpeting and drapes so as to avoid excessive reverberation.
    © Diana Deutsch. Electronic CDs hold the same copyright as physical CDs. This Electronic CD and PDF is licensed to the purchaser and not for distribution. It may be used in public performances including radio, television, festivals, concerts, conferences and classrooms. If you would like to purchase physical CDs or additional copies of Electronic CDs, they are available from http://philomel.com.
    For further information about copyright, please write to diana.deutsch@philomel.com.
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    Purchasable with gift card

      $11 USD


Commentary 01:36
Boris 02:04
Go Back 02:05
Harvey 02:05
Igor 02:05
Nowhere 02:05
Hilda 02:07
Commentary 01:20
Commentary 00:22
Commentary 00:18
Untitled 00:18


Editorial Review:
Phantom Words, and Other Curiosities presents a series of striking auditory illusions and curiosities of sound perception that Diana Deutsch has discovered. Much of this CD is devoted to exploring paradoxical relationships between speech and music. In one demonstration, a spoken phrase is repeated several times over. At some point, instead of appearing to be spoken, the words appear to be sung. Another set of tracks demonstrates a striking dissociation between musical tones and spoken words in memory. The CD is named after the first few tracks, which contain sequences of repeating words and phrases that arise simultaneously from different regions of space. The words coming from the different spatial locations are offset from each other in time. As a result, listeners are given a palette of sounds from which to choose, and so can create in their minds many different combinations of sounds. After continuous exposure to these repeating words, listeners begin to 'hear' words and phrases that are not really there. These 'phantom words' are generated by the brain in an attempt to extract meaning from the chaos of sound that is presented. A new musical illusion is also featured, called the 'cambiata illusion'. Two repeating patterns of tones are presented, one to each ear. Although the tones in each pattern differ markedly in pitch, many people instead hear two melodies formed by tones that are close in pitch, called 'cambiata patterns'. The brain rejects the jerky, improbable patterns that are being produced by the earphones, and reorganizes the sounds so as to create orderly patterns instead. This striking perceptual reorganization represents another attempt by the brain to create order out of the chaos of sound that is presented. The CD includes extensive spoken commentary, and comes with a 20-page full color explanatory booklet which explores these perceptual curiosities in detail. For further information including sound examples, see philomel.com.


released January 1, 2003

Audio Engineer and Graphics: Trevor Henthorn

Front Cover Image: Detail of photograph of the Crescent Nebula, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Courtesy of NASA and NSSDC.

© 2003 Diana Deutsch
℗ 2003 Philomel Records


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Diana Deutsch San Diego, California

Diana Deutsch is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, She is internationally known for the musical illusions and paradoxes that she discovered; these include the octave illusion, the scale illusion, the glissando illusion, the tritone paradox, the cambiata illusion, the phantom words illusion and the speech-to-song illusion, among others. ... more

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