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Digital Synthesis of Natural and Unnatural Sounds

The sampling theorem guarantees theoretically that any sound which can be heard by the human ear can be synthesized from digital samples. Today, computers have actually produced a great variety of interesting and powerful timbres. These range from close imitations of musical instruments to sounds never heard before. An analysis-synthesis technique has been developed which involves analyzing natural sounds and synthesizing approximations to these sounds using simplified models. This work has led not only to rich synthesized sounds, but also to a fundamental understanding of the important factors in natural sounds. Unnatural sounds include pitch and rhythm paradoxes in which the apparent pitch or tempo of a sound can simultaneously increase or decrease; timbres with nonharmonic overtones which preserve some perceptions of classic harmony while rejecting others; and sounds in which the timbre depends on unusual ways in which the spectrum of the sound changes during a note. Examples of various synthesized sounds are included.

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