Schouten, J.F. (1940). The perception of pitch. Philips Techn. Rev. 5, 286-294
Although the human ear is capable of breaking up a complex sound into harmonics, which is understandable phsyiologically by the so-called localization theory, upon superficial listening the ear perceives only a single pitch which is in general that of the fundamental tone. The fact that this is often true even when the fundamental tone is almost or entirely missing has been explained as due to non-linear distortion in the ear. Experiments done in this laboratory have shown that this explanation cannot be correct, and have led to the hypothesis that the low pitch observed is to be ascribed to a collective perception of the higher harmonics. This component of the sound is called the ``residue''. The low pitch of the residue is found to be correlated with the periodicity of the vibration which occurs due to the conjunction of the higher harmonics. It is physiologically understandable that such a conjunction should occur, considering the limited resolving power of the ear. This is made clear by means of a model. In conclusion several phenomena are discussed, some of which have long been familiar, which can be given a simple explanation by means of the hypothesis of the residue; the sound of church bells is discussed in particular.