Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Musical Sonance

Sonance is a term coined by Seashore (1938/1967) to describe perceived qualities that result when successive musical events are fused together.  This fusing occurs because the temporal resolution of hearing is such that it is impossible to hear individual, unrelated events; in this sense sonance is analogous to illusory motion.  In the sonance of musical events, “we hear a resultant pitch, intensity, or timbre which tends to be an average for what is represented in the series of waves that can be grasped in one moment of perception” (p. 103).


  1. Seashore, C. E. (1938/1967). Psychology of Music. New York,: Dover Publications.

(Added November 2010)