To develop a model for predicting the timbral variation of guitar tones resulting from multiparameter distortion-based effects processing, physical measures on a set of guitar signals were related to both perceptual and semantic data collected from a group of young adults. Stimuli were generated using 3 types of distortion processing, the outputs of which were adjusted to yield 3 values of Zwicker Sharpness (ZS). Presented with all pairwise comparisons of 9 versions of a single guitar performance, 60 listeners made perceptual dissimilarity ratings in order to derive a stimulus space comprising the 3 most salient dimensions upon which the guitar timbres differed. Also, 49 listeners made direct ratings on 11 bipolar adjective scales for the same 9 stimuli to aid in the interpretation of the stimulus space. Coordinates on the 1st stimulus space dimension could be related to the ZS values computed for the physical signals, while the 2nd and 3rd dimensions distinguished between the 3 types of distortion effects processors employed in stimulus generation. These 2 dimensions could be predicted from measures of spectral features that remained after removing spectral tilt related to the ZS of the stimuli. The dark-bright adjective ratings were more highly correlated with ZS (r=.795), while the sharp-dull adjective ratings were more highly correlated with Spectral Skewness (r=.804).
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