Auditory masking is described—the phenomenon by which sounds interfere with each other. A key concept is the notion of the critical band. Because masking reduces the effectiveness of the auditory system, it also tends to lead to auditory irritation or annoyance. Masking helps explain three musical practices. First, it explains why chords tend to be spaced with wider intervals in the bass region. Second, due to sensory dissonance, it provides one account of why some harmonic intervals are favored over others. Third, it explains the high-voice superiority effect—suggesting why musicians in nearly every culture tend to place the main melody in the highest voice.
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