Susan Rogers wrote Berklee Online’s Psychoacoustics in Music Production course, part of the school’s Master of Music in Music Production program. She is a professor at Berklee College of Music in the departments of Music Production & Engineering and Liberal Arts, and is the director of the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory. Susan holds a Doctorate in Psychology from McGill University; her research focuses on auditory memory, the perception of musical signals, and the influence of musical training on auditory development. For two decades prior to her science career, Susan was one of the world’s few women known for her work as a record producer, engineer, mixer, and audio electronics technician. Career highlights include five years (1983-1987) as staff engineer for Prince, producing hit singles for diverse artists such as Barenaked Ladies, David Byrne, Robben Ford, Jeff Black, and Rusted Root, mixing hit singles for an equally eclectic list including Tricky, Michael Penn, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Tevin Campbell, and engineering for a host more.
In this first video, Susan explains musical consonance and dissonance with tonotopicity, the area of psychoacoustics that maps frequency-specific sweet spots in the cochlea. She discusses how simultaneous frequencies can interact with each other, how the interactions are perceived, and how the ratios of these frequencies can be defined and studied.
In this next video, Susan explains critical bands and their relevance in understanding musical consonance and dissonance.
With a graph of auditory filters across the frequency spectrum perceivable by humans, she demonstrates how the space between frequencies and how the bands they belong to will dictate how they will interact or interfere with each other.
In this final video, Susan gives us a fascinating look at our own anatomical analog-to-digital converters: the hair cells in the human ear that allow us to hear. She sketches out the structure of these cells and explains the process by which sound waves are captured and translated into binary information that can be processed by the central nervous system.