Talk:Shepard tone

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"The illusion is more convincing if there is a short time between successive notes..."[edit]

This is a subjective observation and should at least include "citation needed." It's an issue due to a project I'm involved in to develop a Shepard Tone Variometer for radio-controlled model sailplanes, and is currently in dispute. -- "Miami Mike" on — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:12, 5 March 2018 (UTC)


"Infamously known for its fast 8th notes through out, its demented chord progressions, its lack of any set time or key signature and its so-called 'ffffffff' or 'octuple forte', Gyorgy Ligeti's masterpiece is one of the more challenging piano Etudes ever written on paper." <--- writing like this doesn't belong in an encyclopedia. "infamously", "demented", "masterpiece" and "ever written on paper" sounds just stupid. fanboish ascertions! how hard it is to play has got nothing to do with the shepard tone anyway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:36, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Song Examples[edit]

The song Lonesome Tears by Beck on his Sea Change album ends with an orchestral Shepard scale. Jhayes94 00:50, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I'll let someone else decide if it should appear in the article or not, but it appears as if almost the entirety of the song "Teotihuacan" by David Byrne on the album "The Forest" is a elaborate Shepard scale. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:43, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I think "Il y a" by the french experimental group Programme would fit the bill as well: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:14, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

There's the King Crimson song Vrooom off of the same-titled Album that has a nice and comprehendible shepard tone, accompanied by a descending chromatic scale, in it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:02, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

"Starla" by Smashing Pumpkins has this sequence starting about the 6:00 mark until the end of the song.


I don't know about anybody else, but I tried this with a sine wave going from 440 Hz to 880 Hz, and ran it through a bandpass filter set at various frequencies, and I didn't get any sort of special illusion. -- Omeomi

Hear the audio example in the last extlink, and take a look at the animation to see what should be happening: a series of long parallel glissandos in octaves, put through a soft bandpass filter (or crossfaded into one another, effectively the same thing). -- The Anome

I guess...I still think the "scale" version is more convincing than the glissando one. It also seems like to use a bandpass filter, you would have to filter each scale/glissandi separately, and then mix them together. Crossfading seems like it would work well though. -- Omeomi

Omeomi, it makes no difference whether signals are added together before or after a linear bandpass filter. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 14:55, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

"Continous Shepard scale"?[edit]

Jean-Claude Risset, as I stated in the article, created a continous Shepard-like scale, so I am unsure if it is named, "the continous Shepard scale."-Hyacinth

What illusion?[edit]

'This auditory illusion can be constructed...' what auditory illusion? You don't explain this for the reader. -- Tarquin 09:02, 14 Aug 2003 (UTC) Yeah, of course it can, thats how we can hear it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:32, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Super Mario[edit]

Interestingly enough, Koji Kondo used a variation of this in the video game Super Mario 64, as background music for an infinite staircase. Here's an audio clip of the scale used in the game. --Codeman38 04:34, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This link is dead. Here's a Wayback link. --Auric talk 01:52, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Pink Floyd[edit]

Is the sequence of sounds at the end of Echoes, on Pink Floyd's Meddle album, another example of a Shepard tone? Thoughtactivist 00:17, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

It's credited as one under the entry for this song. I always figured they had to get this effect by using tape delay, but I did not know what was going on with the tonal quality of the pitch change until reading this article. Spot on, and somehow knowing the mechanics of it doesn't cheapen the effect for me. (talk) 03:32, 29 June 2010 (UTC)Wolfdaddy74701
A Shepard tone might be part of the mix, but there's one prominent element in there that clearly is falling and rising again. To my ears, the Shepard tone, if it's there, is overshadowed. Richard K. Carson (talk) 05:48, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Bach's "Musical Offering"[edit]

There is an example of this in one of the canon's in Bach's Musical Offering. Grab the midi at Classical MIDI Archives.

Thanks, but the Musical Offering is about an hour long and is split into 11 pieces. Can you tell us what piece has the example? --Cluster 19:46, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You might know this by now, but according to Gödel, Escher, Bach, the canon "per tonos" has been rendered with Shepard tones. —JerryFriedman 05:44, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

my shepard tone[edit]

A year ago, I programmed this illusion. Do you think it could be interresting to upload this sound in commons and have a link to it in this article ? --Gloumouth1 23:41, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

It can be done acoustically[edit]

The article said it was "implausible" but I did it with an acoustic guitar(nylon) Drsmoo 23:32, 28 November 2005 (UTC)


This page really needs to be cleaned up and clarified. Shepard tones (plural) or Shepard scale are a little different than the Risset tone. Shepard tones are separate, distinct notes that together give the illusion of constantly rising or falling without ever "getting there." The Risset tone, or barberpole effect, is continuous, and is a lot harder to generate because the separate octaves have to be in phase and their amplitude envelopes need to be logrithmic in order for the effect to work perfectly and for the listener not to hear separations in the tone. The psychoacoustic effect of the continuous tone, when done properly, is a lot more convincing (and disorienting) than the scale.Torc 21:42, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Does the article say they aren't different? Hyacinth 01:45, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
The article makes a slight distinction, but calls one the discrete Shepard scale and the other the continuous Shepard-Risset glissando. Personally, I've never heard Shepard tones called the discrete Shepard scale anywhere but in this article. It's almost always Shepard Tones for one or the Risset Tone, Risset Glissando, or Barberpole effect for the other. "Continuous glissando" is a redundancy anyway. The article also doesn't mention Risset's Suite for Fatman and Little Boy which was the first to feature the glissando or give any dates. (I can add all this later myself.)Torc 02:10, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Yes - I've Seen All Good People[edit]

Does anyone know if the Yes song "I've Seen All Good People" uses a Shepard scale during the chorus at the end of the song as it fades out? Ratamaque 02:25, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Probably not, as the perceived pitch tends to fall, with no cycling apparent (to me). The timbre of Anderson's voice distinctly changes, and not for the better :). However, the closing seconds of "Yours is no Disgrace" might be a rising one. Baccyak4H (Yak!) 17:41, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Search Results lead to this page?[edit]

Is it possible to have the search (or variations of) "never ending scale" lead to this page? Essentially, thats what this article is about. Currently, its about the fourth result down, and if someone looking for for such a thing didn't happen to recognize the name (I did), they may not find it. 06:12, 27 October 2007 (UTC)


I thought it might be worth mentioning that this article has been cited by an "external entity". In a recent NPR video podcast called "Song Project", it shows some people looking up this article, then referring to a printout of the article, to better understand the Shepard tone while composing a song. linkity]. - 21:44, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

References to Super mario[edit]

Is the Youtube link to super mario really necessary? The effect in question is not easily heard in the music and it seems a stupid reference to have. (talk) 23:13, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

I personally like the inclusion of the mario sample, although the youtube link in question might not be the best demonstration as it focuses on the rest of the level. The reference is meaningful, as it shows an interesting and rather unusual use of shepard tones in real life. SealedSun (talk) 23:26, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


Does it or does it not remind you of a plane flying overhead, descending due to Redshift? —Preceding unsigned comment added by JakCurse (talkcontribs) 21:41, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Ruled by Secrecy[edit]

I checked Ruled by Secrecy, by Muse. The Shepard scale glissando is definitely there at the end. Mac Davis (talk) 04:55, 29 May 2009 (UTC)


This needs to be legible: Tenney has also proposed that the piece be revised and realized so that all entrances are timed in such a way that the ratio between successive pitches is the golden ratio, which would make each lower first-order combination tone of each successive pair coincide with subsequently spaced, lower, tones.

Not only can the sentence not be understood, its also just sort of dropped in there. What entrances? What first order combi whowhat? Why do we care? When did he propose this, and why has it taken him 50 years to accomplish it? (talk) 15:53, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

New World Round[edit]

Could the track from the movie Knowing entitled New World Round be considered a Shepard tone? Jlodman (talk) 03:48, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Tie Your Mother Down[edit]

The intro to the album-only version of Tie Your Mother Down from Queen's A Day At The Races would qualify, I think (talk) 03:16, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Ten sine waves?[edit]

The 'construction' section talks about ten sine waves. Surely this should be three or four? The synthesiser figure and the text seem to be talking about chords of three notes and four notes. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:30, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

The example in the prose uses only two sine waves per tone, except for the last tone; I edited the article to reflect this. Adding further confusion is that this description does not match the given figure, which as you note, uses three and four sine waves depending on the tone. Gsskyles (talk) 06:58, 23 April 2015 (UTC)