Subject: virtureal ton 2. From: Andreas Rodler <Andreas.Rodler(at)IRCAM.FR> Date: Sun, 25 Aug 1996 21:28:49 +0000
h i g h ! * this is the second call for proposals for the " v i r t u r e a l t o n " (music magazine published by the austrian section of ISCM new online version by ORFkunstradio) * some ideas about "akustische virtualitaet" an maybe an inspiration for your . . . cool reflexio n ear you soon s h a . PTM andreas rodler rodler(at)ircam.fr grashofgasse 3/8/10 - 1010 vienna - austria - tel/fax +43-1-5130309 (papers & other works should be submitted by the deadline of September 15, 1996) thanks for NONIONTIONNTIONENTIONTENTIONTTENTIONATTENTIONATTENTIOATTENTIATTENTATTENATTEATTAT A ! 2 . c a l l *********************************************************************** composers, musicians and musicologists in particular are used to regard music as art-in-time. "space and music" are considered to belong rather in the field of acoustic science. it would seem a little too ambitious at this point to explore the origins of this misconception ; i would just like to mention the complete neglect of the aspect of space within our method of notation which took the basis for the comprehension of music in western civilization for the longest time. space is being discovered - "musicalized" - very slowly and too often with all the wrong basic parameters. nonetheless the perception of space remains the human being`s most basic approach towards the environment. the perception of time seems to be derived from the perception of space and to be interspersed with the concept of space. time - which cannot even be known to exist beyond our means of perception - can only be experienced as "space of time", and even when leaving the state of being awake - of being conscious - the perception of space dissolves only after all other perception of reality has vanished. to accomplish this p r o c e s s o f p e r c e i v i n g s p a c e the ear holds an eminent position much underrated by musicians and producers of public and private environments (architects, designers, advertising agents, planners of traffic facilities, etc.) alike: with its ability to differentiate macro- and microstructures at great distances as well as in closest proximity the sense of hearing is a link between the intimate sense of touch and the "sense of distance" of the eye. but beyond identifying sound the ear can also localize sound-sources and even listen round the corner; all this with the highest sensitivity (at the threshold of audibility one would encounter an amplitude deflection of the basilar membrane of approximately 10exp-10m (the average diameter of a hydrogen atom) and the energy it takes to trigger the transverse fibers of the basilar membrane is 10exp-20J (a tenth of the energy of a quantum of visible light). furthermore it is an everyday experience that the ear "reacts" faster than any other sense organ; hearing doesn`t depend on any physical "reaction" (whereas to be able to look at something one has to turn the head or focus the eyes). localization of sound is a matter of milliseconds, a typical sound can be recognized in thirty thousands of a second. the ear can also perceive a much wider bandwith (frequency range) then e.g. the eye: we can "see" one octave but can hear ten octaves. in combination with the other sense organs we are able to perceive a multitude of impressions which determine our conception of space in all detail. but - due to the differences between the bits of information provided by our sensory perception - it is hard to define a standardized concept of space. the fact that every person has their own p r e c o n c e i v e d n o t i o n s o f t h e i r p e r s o n a l s p a c e renders such a definition even more complex as this phenomenon applies to "ear-space" in particular: the acoustic perception of the "natural" environment of everyday life simply projects the superficial aspects of space (i am able to recognize my living room because i have learned how it reacts to acoustic signals - a car passing by, my lover`s voice, . . . - or vice versa) whereas "non-natural" sounds produced and/or realized by electronic means go beyond the superficial aspects of - visual - space. these sounds carry their own physical volume; they appear to be large and dark or peaky and light at times. instead of being perceived as simple features of a sound source and as indicators of the sound source`s localization they mutate into quasi-objects complete with their own physical and spatial qualities. this creates an "ear-space" the dimensions of which are in an odd and confusing proportion to the "eye-space". this confusing, " u n r e a l " p r o p o r t i o n o f o p t i c a l a n d a c o u s t i c s p a c e is the characteristic feature of a c o u s t i c v i r t u a l i t y which shall be discussed here. however in this context the main interest is not the conventional reading of the terms virtual reality and cyberspace both of which proceed on the assumption of an almost exclusively visual (virtual) world in which all other sense organs merely support the data of perception of the eye - not unlike the sound design of various hollywood productions they are accompaniment only, never allowed to play an equal part in the game of perception. by means of an irritating and relativizing relationship between ear-space and real-space both could equally fertilize each other, thus providing a long-term e m a n c i p a t i o n o f t h e e a r . virtual acoustics - the sector of development in music aims to expand the a r t o f a c o u s t i c s t r u c t u r i n g o f t i m e into the a r t o f a c o u s t i c s t r u c t u r i n g o f s p a c e and - using contemporary technologies and media (like computers and loudspeakers) - has already led to astonishing results. in this context the definition of "space" would include both, the surface as well as the inside - the microspace - of sound / a sound structure. these astonishing results were made possible only by the use of modern up-to-date technologies, but these technologies in fact would never have been developed if not for the visionary wish to obtain these results.(!) consequently, attention shall be devoted to the space / the time between "vision" and "realization" - defined by the individual visions`s "feasibility". both t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f h a r d w a r e (interactive 3D/4D spatialisation-systems striving to win the most precisely controlable sound of space from the space of sound) and s o f t w a r e (computer programs for analysis, dsp and composition the basic structure of which takes the aspect of space into consideration as a crucial parameter) should be presented at this point. furthermore a survey of the latest scientific findings within the fields of p h y s i c a l p h y s i o l o g i c a l p s y c h o l o g i c a l a c o u s t i c s shall be presented as these provide the basis for an understanding of the abilities related to spatial audioperception- and transformation, and redefine these abilities with regards to the phenomena mentioned earlier. other focal points are the testing of the musical and physical qualities of such an (acoustically) virtual reality as well as the conscious o p e n i n g u p o f t h i s n e w s o u n d - a r t i n t o t h e p u b l i c . the realization of these projects is no longer bound to venues reserved for production of the arts; this art form will have / will want to conquer its very own space. and that does not just mean only to "open up / redesign" everyday-locations but also to extend the idea of "mediadesign" to an experimental understanding of telematic / virtual space, like global networks. all these areas are dealing with examinations and studies of the effects of such acoustic intrusions - some of which are happening permanently - upon the environment and people; but after all it is a discussion about a new " f u n c t i o n a l i t y " o f t h i s k i n d o f m u s i c .