Consonance Based Spectral Mappings

by William A. Sethares

This paper presents a method of mapping the spectrum of a sound so as to make it tonally consonant with a given specified reference spectrum. One application is to transform inharmonic sounds into harmonic equivalents. Alternatively, it can be used to create inharmonic instruments that retain much of the tonal quality of familiar (harmonic) instruments. Musical uses of such timbres are discussed, and forms of (inharmonic) modulation are presented.

Consonance Based Spectral Mappings appeared in the Spring 1998 issue of the Computer Music Journal along with some sound examples demonstrating both the breadth and the limitations of the method. The spectral mapping technique is also discussed in my book Tuning Timbre Spectrum Scale, and it is used in many of the pieces on the CDs XENTONALITY and Exomusicology. You can hear spectral mappings in action in the piece The Turquoise Dabo Girl, which is available in mp3 for download.

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