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Sonic Identity

Christian, List

Christian wrote, in part

>Our goal is to largely match the classification results of the SOM with our
>perception, although it is not easy to define what 'perceptual simililarity'
>means for dynamic sounds.
>Thank you for any further suggestions,
>Christian Spevak

I believe that there is a strong connection here to the field of
electroacoustic [electro-acoustic music] analysis which is slowly
developing, and which relies upon a knowledge of the fields of 'sonic art',
acoustics, psychoacoustics, linguistics and psycholinguistics. (Sadly I
have only a smattering of knowledge in each, but ignorance seldom keeps
many people quiet.)

It could be that 'perceptual similarity' (similarities) are different in
each of these areas, and that they are 'profiles' that could be combined
into a 'metaprofile of sonic identity'.

One could say "an oboe sounds like an english horn": or "an english horn
sounds like an oboe". These two statements may be perceptualy similar, and
(it is my understanding) that the difference between them resides
(largely) in the field of psycholinguistics.

That kind of similarity/differentiation aside, one could say that "an
oboe sounds like a bassoon" ... "a krumhorn" ... "shawm" ... "bagpipes" ...
"french horn" ... "trumpet" ... "bleeting sheep" ... "duck" ... (or like
Salome dancing with the head of John the Baptist).

Digital sound transformation allows the gradual transformation of one
sound into another: mental sound transformation allows the statement that
"The first movement of the Bruckner Eighth Symphony sounds like a slow
moving freight train." The nature of the perceptual similarity may be
metaphoric, but (IMV), this is only a short step from trombones
representing Hades in Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607), (which requires cultural
learning, and segregation and streaming capabilities). A distant plane
- a distant ocean. Eb major arpeggiations - maidens under the Rhine.

Referencing a sonic profile (with as many points as necessary) rather
than seeking a single articulator for a 'sonic event' is part of the work
going on in 'electroacousticlogy' (the ea/cm parallel to musicology), and
the topic you bring forth is central to this field because (unlike
traditional music[s] where instruments have 'defined identities' [sic])
ea/cm (esp the style called 'acousmatic') is built around dynamic [sound]

The development of a vocabulary to talk about dynamic(ly transforming)
sounds may need to take place at the same time as the exploration of the
concepts of 'sonic identity / perceptual similarity', and provides a fine
opportunity for members of both the 'sonic arts' and psychoacoustic
communities to work together.

Many thanks for your thought provoking insights.



[For some information on what the electroacoustic side of this issue
looks like (sic), you may wish to start at the Canadian Electroacoustic
Community site <cec.concordia.ca>. It contains texts, sounds, links etc.]


13 degrees ... yes, and more rain in Montreal