I was thrilled to talk with Dr. Diana Deutsch, a pioneer in the field of music perception and psychology (she literally wrote the book on music psychology). Diana has discovered a number of famous musical illusions. Prepare to have your mind blown by the octave illusion, the scale illusion, the tritone paradox, the mysterious melody, and the speech-to-song illusion “Sometimes Behave So Strangely,” made popular by Radiolab. Diana also explains how composers can benefit from studying these perceptual illusions.
I highly recommend checking out more about these musical illusions on Diana Deutsch’s website.
Subscribe to Composer Quest
Want to try out this Tritone Paradox experiment? Listen to the following audio track on speakers or headphones with a flat frequency response (not too bassy, not to tinny). Take note of whether you hear each pitch pair as going up or down, and record your responses below.