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This paper considers the harmonic combination of basic melodic shapes known as contour icons in concurrent auditory displays. Existing work in the field (such as that concerning earcons) has considered the combination of patterns designed using low level cognitive features, and so effective streaming is difficult. This work investigates means by which musical patterns with high level cognitive features (such as contour) representing data values can be rendered concurrently, so that multiple data sets can be effectively conveyed using an auditory display. The detection and comprehension of harmonically combined contour icons was tested in comparison to those combined uniquely (non harmonically). Results suggest that significant improvement in pattern combination detection was made using harmonically combined contour icons, although limitations were observed due to the nature of the harmonic relations involved. Future work will investigate the most flexible methods of harmonic combination, to produce an effective method of auditory display.
Cullen, C., Coyle, E.: Harmonically Combined Contour Icons for Concurrent Auditory Display. ISSC: Irish Signals and Systems Conference, 2006.