Hearing Sense Overview II

Analyzing Hearing

Although hearing can be passive, hearing incidental sounds, this sense is almost entirely active. We are able to block out sound with our brains and can even sleep through commotion. We are able to affect how people hear by masking or blocking sound, enhancing sound, or combining sound to create new possibilities. These options give new experiential moments.

Manipulating sound electronically or using acoustical mechanisms, we can change how people hear and also what they hear. However, we are also able to adjust sonic experience by manipulating our ears and hearing. People who wear headphones or hearing aids are able to filter out the environment and only experience portions of the world of sound. These devices are able to adjust pitch and amplitude, meaning anyone wearing one will have a different experience than one without. The sonic landscape can also be changed with various effects such as reverberation and delay. These two can change the nature of a space, because they can augment or diminish the experiential size of the space just with adjusting the qualities of the sound.

We transform the signal in our minds through associating the sound with some value or memory. These associations come naturally from our existence in the environment or the repetitive introduction of the signal over time. As mentioned above, removing sound affects the listener, but we can also use additive design to create new sonic experiences. Our brain can understand a new meaning from overlaying multiple sounds. In fact, this is the way movie makers create new sounds for their films.

These sounds can be considered good, bad, or neutral, but we can also place a meaning on it by associating values. Producing the sound multiple times in connection with another object or entity, we are able to create new connotations. We can also affect the memory of a sound be repetition of the sound during experience of some event or input from another sense.

Hearing is used nearly constantly throughout the day, and sound enhances other senses and emotions. The content of a movie is affected tremendously by sound, and the quality of these sounds can improve or lower the quality of the film’s perception. Most people will preference the visual when traversing the environment, but sound is a great indicator, and many things in our world signal or can be sensed through sound. The sense works at a distance, but there is a disparity in the speed of the signal of sound and of light, and the two quickly separate over distance creating silent visual events and later disembodied sounds that may match or differ greatly with the perceived image. Nevertheless, sound is extremely useful in our day to day lives and throughout history, as we accept language first aurally and second visually. Language is believed to come from sounds from individuals long before the written word. As such, it may be intrinsic and atavistic to our working brains.

We use hearing to create memory and understanding in our lives, as well as to apply, analyze, and evaluate the world in order to create and thrive. It is crucial that we create these memories of sound in order to provide a description of the object and use this understanding to create meaning that acts as a catalyst or stimulus to put us into action. With this, we can think about how the thing emanating sound works or acts and later judge how it can be used or avoided. Finally, with the mastery of the sound and hearing in general, we can create new sonic signals to interact with the environment.

Hearing may not be our primary sense, but it is extremely useful to navigate the world. In some situations, it may be our only sense that allows us to be safe and interact with the environment. Because it is such an intrinsic and important sense, we draw associations through specific sounds, and these may be shared from culture to culture or may be very different. However, the quality and form of the sound provides information that can be shared across populations and languages. In some instances, it is possible and maybe even important to impart meaning on something, such as an alarm or the buzzing of a hornet, in order to exist safely.

Next Steps:

Develop text for the Creating with Sound. This will require answering the ten questions set aside in the template.

Review the Analyzing section, remove any redundancy, and add text to increase the word count.

Determine if there are any additional diagrams to create for the use of hearing.

Develop three to six examples of using sound in design. This is a chance to push the importance of meaning on the reader.


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