Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I just read this fabulous article on the use of echolocation by blind persons in order to determine the the specifics of their surroundings. We all do this to varied degrees, but what is so fabulous here is that you have expert users. By learning to hear echo reflection with great specificity, one can reveal the surroundings through auditory sensing.

Immediately I begin thinking about the musical application, but realize that theis is what microsound and convolution are all about. What is remarkable here is the ability of these expert listeners to use only limited amounts of noise bursts (which are not full spectrum as they are not likely short enough to cause the spectrum to be be a full frequency noise burst and that they are coming from a human vocal apparatus they are filtered by the mechanics of sound creation i.e. mouth, device) to reveal with great precision the size, position and composition of objects.

Of course, we all do this and that is why a dry recording of a violin sounds unnatural, there are no room acoustics, those are inherently part of reality for humans. When the acoustic situation does not amplify for mute certain frequencies, the sound is thought to be unnatural. The other example that springs to mind is the closing of a car door. Instantly, the sound changes and it is a very familiar sound that we take for granted.

This does make me imagine music that unfolds a variety of spaces on a variety of time scales.

Here is the World Access for the Blind Website


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