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Is Nonlinear Propagation Responsible for the Brassiness of Elephant Trumpet Calls?

Abstract : African elephants (Loxodonta africana) produce a broad diversity of sounds ranging from infrasonic rumbles to much higher frequency trumpets. Trumpet calls are very loud voiced signals given by highly aroused elephants, and appear to be produced by a forceful expulsion of air through the trunk. Some trumpet calls have a very distinctive quality that is unique in the animal kingdom, but resemble the “brassy” sounds that can be produced with brass musical instruments such as trumpets or trombones. Brassy musical sounds are characterised by a flat spectral slope caused by the nonlinear propagation of the source wave as it travels through the long bore of the instrument. The extent of this phenomenon, which normally occurs at high intensity levels (e.g. fortissimo), depends on the fundamental frequency (F0) of the source as well as on the length of the resonating tube. Interestingly, the length of the vocal tract of the elephant (as measured from the vocal folds to the end of the trunk) approximates the critical length for shockwave formation, given the fundamental frequency and intensity of trumpet calls. We suggest that this phenomenon could explain the unique, distinctive brassy quality of elephant trumpet calls.
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Soumis le : jeudi 20 septembre 2018 - 10:29:26
Dernière modification le : lundi 23 novembre 2020 - 21:12:03

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Joël Gilbert, Jean-Pierre Dalmont, Romain Potier, David Reby. Is Nonlinear Propagation Responsible for the Brassiness of Elephant Trumpet Calls?. Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 2014, 100 (4), pp.734 - 738. ⟨10.3813/AAA.918752⟩. ⟨hal-01877633⟩



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