Friday, 30 November 2007

Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds by Jean Francois Augoyard

Never before has the everyday soundtrack of urban space been so cacophonous. Since the 1970s, sound researchers have attempted to classify noise, music, and everyday sounds using concepts such as Pierre Shafer's sound object and R. Murray Schafer's soundscape. Recently, the most significant team of soundscape researchers in the world has been concerned with the effects of sounds on listeners.

In a multidisciplinary work spanning musicology, electro-acoustic composition, architecture, urban studies, communication, phenomenology, social theory, physics, and psychology, Jean-Fran├žois Augoyard, Henry Torgue, and their associates at the Centre for Research on Sonic Space and the Urban Environment (CRESSON) in Grenoble, France, provide an alphabetical sourcebook of eighty sonic/auditory effects. Their accounts of sonic effects such as echo, anticipation, vibrato, and wha-wha integrate information about the objective physical spaces in which sounds occur with cultural contexts and individual auditory experience. Sonic Experience attempts to rehabilitate general acoustic awareness, combining accessible definitions and literary examples with more in-depth technical information for specialists.

The ability to concentrate our attention on the speech of a specific speaker by disregarding parasite information coming from the surroundings…From the physical perspective, one of the predominant elements is the spatial separation of noise and speech. On the psychophysiological level, selective listening is governed by our capacity to discriminate sounds from different sources - by our capacity to localize in the noise.

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