I N T E R F E R E N C E S
Based on the work of
and Henry Torgue.
A T T R A C T I O N
A phonotropic effect in which an emerging sound phenomenon attracts and polarizes attention, being conscious or not. The magnitude of this effect can range from fleeting comprehension, to the complete mobilization of attention. In very busy streets for instance, singers and musical groups try constantly to gain the attention of passersby. These sound situations exert a power of attraction precisely because they are in contrast with the ambient hubbub. When the acoustic horizons of different musicians overlap, there is no emergence effect, thus no attraction. A siren, which manifests itself exclusively in the sonic sphere, and whose source often cannot be located, illustrates the attraction/repulsion duality that characterizes the emergence of certain sound events.
B L U R R I N G
The blurring (estompage) effect refers to the progressive and imperceptible disappearance of a sound atmosphere. In contrast to the decrescendo effect, the auditor usually only notices the absence of sound once the effect is completed.
C H A I N
A chain reaction: one sound event provokes a sonic response, which produces another, and so on. These successive inductions, whether or not they are enacted consciously, can result in a phenomenon of sound escalation. Crowd situations are favourable to the appearance of this effect; the applause that follows a show, for instance, may be started by a small group of people, or even a single auditor, and progressively lead the whole audience up to a manifestation whose intensity greatly exceeds the sum of individual contributions. Sometimes the role of a “claque” appears to be quite useful in inciting movement and maintaining pressure.
C H O R U S
An electroacoustic effect that consists of mixing a direct signal with a portion of itself, slightly delayed and modulated through a low-frequency oscillator. The variable phase displacement thus produced enriches the original sound by seeming to multiply the sound sources – hence its reference to chorus, sum of individual voices.
C O C K T A I L
This effect, named by E. Cherry with reference to the sound space in which we can observe it best, refers to our ability to focus attention on the speech of a specific speaker by disregarding irrelevant information coming from the surroundings. In this type of metabolic context, sound components are almost equivalent in intensity and frequency: it is their multiplication that creates the surrounding sound level. From the physical point of view, one of the predominant elements in the cocktail effect is the spatial separation of noise and speech. In consequence, we know that, on the psycho- physiological level, selective listening is governed by our capacity to discriminate sounds from different sources – that is, by our capacity to localize in the noise.
C O L O U R I N G
An effect describing the influence of a location, electroacoustic system, or instrument on the new balance of the frequencies of a sound, “coloured” through its diffusion. We speak of the “colour” of a room or the “colour” of a loudspeaker. Colouring is acoustically linked to filtration, but its use remains more popular. To the untrained ear, the colouring of a sound situation is particularly well perceived when colouration changes rapidly. A good example is the clear inside/outside transition of film soundtracks or the entry of woodwind instruments (flute, clarinet, bassoon, oboe) in the musical stream of string instruments.
C O U P L I N G
Interaction between two sound phenomena that seem to be distinct yet connected, without being necessarily engaged in a causal relationship. In architecture, for example, we can observe the reciprocal influences of different reverberations of two adjacent spaces.
C R E S C E N D O
An effect produced by a progressive increase in the intensity of a sound. This well-known effect, which has specific notation in music, can be found in the most diverse contexts: in the approach of a sound source, the acceleration of a vehicle, the start-up of a machine, the rise of a murmur, etc.
C R O S S F A D E
While the cut out effect describes an abrupt change from one sonic state to another, the term crossfade refers to a more progressive transition between states, accomplished through a decrease in intensity of the first state and increasing apparition of the second. We can experience this effect when crossing a mid-sized square in which reflections from the street or the façade behind us slowly crossfades with sounds from the opposite direction.
D E B U R A U
With this effect, the listener’s attention searches for a sound that is inaudible, such as the voice of a muted person. The effect is named for Jean-Baptiste Deburau (1796–1846), a famous mime whose trial attracted the whole of Paris, curious to hear his voice. By extension, this effect characterizes the identification of a sound source followed by the observation that once discovered, it is no longer of particular interest.
D E C O N T E X T U A L I Z A T I O N
The incongruous intervention of a sound or group of sounds into a coherent situation that was previously experienced, or into a situation where the sonic content is predictable: for example, sounds from the private domain heard in a public space.
D E L O C A L I Z A T I O N
Delocalization, a form of the ubiquity effect, implies recognition of an error in localizing a sound source. As with the ubiquity effect, the listener does not know where the sound comes from; however, with the delocalization effect, the listener knows exactly where the sound seems to come from, while at the same time being conscious that it is an illusion. There can be delocalization without ubiquity, but there cannot be ubiquity without delocalization.
D E S Y N C H R O N I Z A T I O N
Desynchronization, a temporal decontextualization effect, characterizes the emergence of a sound emission that breaks the regularity of a rhythm or a well-established sound structure, creating a feeling of incongruity. The event may have the same sonic nature as the elements it disrupts, as when someone interrupts another person without respecting the rhythmic alternation of a conversation. The social dimension of the desynchronization effect is crucial. Cinematographic montage also offers a clear field of application for this effect; arranging sounds in a sequence, the rhythmic development must be accomplished while respecting both the acoustic complexity of the scene and legibility of significant sound events. Any discontinuity in the phrasing of the sequence provokes a feeling of desynchronization.
D I G R E S S I O N
The digression effect refers to the emergence of a temporary change of sound ambience in a complex perceptive organization that does not seem to affect behaviours or mark memory. Digression is an erasure effect at the level of a whole sequence. The most common example is a phone call that interrupts a conversation, suspends it for a moment, and then allows its resumption at the place where it stopped without altering its content.
D I L A T A T I O N
The dilation effect refers to the feeling of the emitter concerning the space of propagation and the hearing sensitivity of others: the emitter feels that the sound she or he produces will carry and be clearly perceived (diastolic movement). This effect can be anticipatory as well as perceptual. Human ethology is swarming with representative cases of this preventive sound marking: for instance, a person who is not accustomed to using a telephone and speaks loudly as the correspondent is far away.
D O P P L E R
Physicist Christian-Johann Doppler (1803–53) noticed this effect first with sound and then also with light. The Doppler- Fizeau effect describes a relative anamorphose of the original signal. This perceptive modification is due to a relation of movement between the sound source and the listener that provokes either a compression or an expansion of the sound wave. A sound signal that moves closer is perceived as being higher than it actually is, whereas that same signal moving away will be perceived as being lower. This phenomenon comes from a combination of the sound’s speed of propagation and the movement of the sound source. When both the sound wave and the sound source move in the same direction, the perceived frequency rises. When they move in opposite directions, the perceived frequency drops. When there is a sudden change of direction of the source in relation to the listener, the Doppler effect can be accompanied by a complementary effect of approach and distancing.
D U L L N E S S
The dullness (matité) effect is the effect to reverberation; absolute dullness implies total absence of reflected sound signals. A room is considered as “dull” when absorbent materials prevent diffusion of reflected waves. The absolute state of dullness is only realized in an anechoic chamber.
E C H O
Echo, a phenomenon observed in nature, is the simple or multiple repetition of a sound emission, linked to a reflection in the space of diffusion. The term comes from Echo, a mythological nymph condemned to never speak first, but only repeat the last syllables of others. The psychogenetic signification of this effect was underlined as being possibly as important as the mirror stage.
E N V E L O P M E N T
The feeling of being surrounded by a body of sound that has the capacity to create an autonomous whole, that predominates over other circumstantial features of the moment. The envelopment effect is sometimes applied to negative situations, but most often it provokes reactions comparable to bewitchment – staggering, delightful. The accomplishment of this effect is marked by enjoyment, with no need to question the origin of the sound: hence the clear difference between envelopment and ubiquity.
E R A S U R E
The erasure (gommage) effect refers to one or several sound elements in an audible ensemble that are deleted from perception or memory. This selective suppression is a fundamental effect of hearing. The majority of audible sounds in a day are heard without being listened to and are then forgotten.
H Y P E R L O C A L I Z A T I O N
A perceptive effect linked to the sporadic character of a sound source that irresistibly focalizes the listener’s attention on the location of emission. When the source moves, the listener continues to follow it. This effect is often found in transmission through solids (for example a marble rolling on the floor upstairs).
I M I T A T I O N
A semiotic effect referring to a sound emission that is consciously produced according to a style of reference. Imitation implies the use of a cultural code that allows recognition of this style in the sound emission. Imitation is found as structure in the global shape of a sound utterance, and it works in a complex way. Imitation implies a sense of intention on the part of the emitter, and to be appropriately perceived, it also requires the listener’s knowledge of the reference. The effect exists insofar as there is a reciprocal relationship between the sound element (style of reference) and its interpretation (perceptive and productive activity).
I M M E R S I O N
The dominance of a sonic micromilieu that takes precedence over a distant or secondary perceptive field. While it is possible that the submerged sound element may be heard temporarily, the dominant effect is primarily perceived as positioned above the background sound. Natural contexts offer numerous examples of this effect: listening to snatches of conversation, a song near the sea, or the music of a carousel on a beach. In this specific context, the murmur of the waves creates a permanent setting that gives the impression of containing a primary sonic situation. The urban drone can also create this structure of a permanent framework over which individual sonic activities are superimposed.
I N C U R S I O N
The incursion (irruption) effect refers to an unexpected sound event that modifies the climate of a moment and the behaviour of a listener in a characteristic way. This effect is to time, as the intrusion effect is to space. Even with its generalized use, a telephone ring remains an aggressive sound event for many people, not so much because of its timbre, which has softened over time, but because of its unexpected and imperious character: a call not only interrupts the present state, but also dictates new behaviour for a given moment.
I N T R U S I O N
A psychomotor effect linked to territoriality. The inopportune presence of a sound or group of sounds inside a protected territory creates a feeling of violation of that space, particularly when it occurs in the private sphere. In some pathological states, voices and sounds are perceived as illegitimate intrusions in the body.
M A S K
The mask (masque) effect refers to the presence of a sound that partially or completely masks another sound because of its intensity or the distribution of its frequencies. This effect, easily demonstrated acoustically, also implies a subjective psychophysiological reaction: the masking sound can be judged as either parasitic or favourable, depending on whether or not the masked sound is perceived as pleasant.
N A R R O W I N G
The narrowing (rétrécissement) effect refers to a sensation that the space is shrinking, which is felt by an emitter listening to the return of a sent message. Characteristic of a reverberating milieu, this spatial perception effect is located in a continuum delimited by reverberation and dullness.
P E R D I T I O N
A semantic effect that might also be called the “dereliction” or “loss.” This effect is linked to a feeling of perdition, in the double sense, of a soul in distress and the dissipation of a sound motif. The sound seems to be emitted for nothing, for everyone to hear but requiring no answer. It is a sound without destination, absurd in the etymological sense; its entire expression is simply a sign of powerlessness. Often characteristic of extreme suffering constituted principally of tears and moans, this effect accompanies life situations that are violent or painful.
P H A S E
An acoustic effect that desynchronizes the cycles of two simultaneous emissions of a sound signal. Phasing is in fact a de-phasing effect: two cycles that are identical but begin at two different points of their curves, or two cycles that begin together but do not have the same duration.
P H O N O M N E S I S
This effect refers to a sound that is imagined but not actually heard. Phonomnesis (phonomnèse) is a mental activity that involves internal listening: examples include recalling to memory sounds linked to a situation, or creating sound textures in the context of composition. Close to anamnesis because of its inner, rather than sonic, nature, the phonomnesis effect consists of imagining a sound. In this case, it is not a sound situation that stimulates a memory process, but rather a lived situation that engenders an inner and silent listening. There is no strict causality between the lived and the imagined sound. The latter can be expressed in multiple ways: the remembered tune, the mental elaboration of that same melody interpreted by instruments of different timbres, the invention of sound images, musical or not. Phonomnesis remains one of the great methods of composition, since a theme – before it is actually played, whistled, or hummed – is a mental act. Listening is an act that can sometimes be totally mental and silent. Graphic sonic effects, characteristic of strip cartoons and real phonomnesic indicators, transpose the sonic world into the visual field, in which the occupied surface and the shapes of letters combine to illustrate or invent the intended effect.
P H O N O T O N I E
This effect, also called the phonotonic effect, characterizes the feeling of euphoria provoked by a sound perception. Sometimes it induces a behaviour directly, such as a renewed activity, a collective movement, or a reflex gesture. Musical listening often plays this functional role in individual or collective work.
Q U O T A T I O N
Contrary to imitation, quotation (citation) is a textual reprise and does not imply distance. It is easily identifiable in musical and verbal contexts, but it can also be observed in the everyday sound environment. This semiotic effect can range from homage to burlesque. The quotation effect will always be accomplished in the scope of a known cultural product; it is conventional and is recognized in a given culture. This excerpt of another expression is accompanied by signs that make it possible to recognize the original source. While the imitation effect stimulates a style of reference, the quotation effect is located at the level of the content, the sonic figure. Reprise, another related effect, differs from quotation because it repeats a sound motif in an identical way. Reprise implies a self-reference, since the pattern that is replayed has its founding in the work itself.
R E L E A S E
Release (traînage) is an acoustic effect that describes the residual duration of a sound, from its cessation until silence or background noise. This period of time is variable, depending on sounds and spaces of propagation, and includes diverse modes of progressive disappearance of a signal through different frequency zones. In electroacoustics, we also speak of release as the duration of the extinction of a sound once its emission has stopped.
R E M A N E N C E
A continuation of a sound that is no longer heard. After the extinction of both emission and propagation, the sound gives the impression of remaining “in the ear.” Remanence is neither an anamnesis (sounds heard in the present that evoke the past), nor a phonomnesis (remembered sound without physical listening). Remanence does not involve deep and early memory. It is simply the mnestic trace of barely subsided sound signals. This effect is often used in music: the permanence of a tonal or modal climate of reference; the impression of hearing a continuous drone; or melismatic movements that make an absent sound virtually present.
R E P E T I T I O N
A reappearance of similar sound occurrences. The repetition effect works on two levels: on one hand, it marks phenomena of automatism involving subjection; on the other hand, it characterizes phenomena of return, reprise, and enrichment by accumulation. In a strict sense, the repetition effect is defined as the feeling of reappearance of sound occurrences perceived as identical. Repetition – being both a composition effect (an object that we listen to) and a psychomotor effect (an object that we produce) – does not describe a priori a particular sonic content. Any sound or group of sounds, simple or complex, may be concerned. Also, the repetition effect determines neither a specific system of perception nor a typical psychomotor context: multiple attitudes may be related to it.
R E P U L S I O N
A psychomotor effect referring to a sound phenomenon that produces, in an uncontrolled or conscious way, an attitude of rejection and behaviours of flight, whether mental or real. There are numerous examples in the human and animal worlds: for cats, the crumpling of an aluminium sheet; for humans, a high pitched squeaking produced by chalk on a board or a metal point on a hard surface.
R E S O N A N C E
The resonance effect refers to the vibration, in air or through solids, of a solid element. The production of resonance requires a relatively high acoustic level and a concordance between the exciting frequency and the object put into vibration. Modal resonance refers to the phenomenon of standing waves in a three-dimensional space. Note in everyday language the term “resonance” includes any acoustically observable sonic effect, particularly reverberation. Resonance is a general physical phenomenon found in all periodic sinusoidal movements, particularly in mechanics, acoustics, optics, and electricity. The identity of the role of certain elements make it possible to perform studies by analogy, referring to a general system that includes the actual case of resonance at the sonic level. For the phenomenon of resonance to manifest itself, the periodic sinusoidal movement must fullfill the four following conditions: The system must have a characteristic frequency. It must be maintained with a constant energy input (because of the loss of energy due to friction, which must always be taken into consideration). The loss of exterior energy must be low enough that the transmitted energy remains superior or equal to the internal loss of the system. The exciting frequency must be equal or almost equal to the characteristic frequency of the system. Under these conditions, theoretically resonance produces an infinite gain in amplitude. At least in the normal mode, corresponding to the lowest frequency, called the fundamental.
S H A R A W A D J I
An aesthetic effect that characterizes the feeling of plenitude that is sometimes created by the contemplation of a sound motif or a complex soundscape of inexplicable beauty. This exotic term, introduced in Europe in the seventeenth century by travelers returning from China, designates “the beauty that occurs with no discernible order or arrangement. When Chinese people visit a beautiful garden that strikes their imagination because of its absence of design, it is commonly said that its ‘sharawadji’ is admirable”. This virtual order, imperceptible and present, produces fascination and is breathtaking. The sharawadji effect is unexpected and transports us elsewhere, beyond the strict representation of things, out of context. In this brutally present confusion, we lose both our senses and our sense. Undoubtedly, to define the sharawadji effect, we need to define some modalities of the sublime.
S U S P E N S I O N
A semantic compositional effect characterized by the feeling of non-fulfillment of a heard sound sequence: the sound seems to be suspended, awaiting continuation. This effect leaves the listener in a state of uncertainty, indecision, or powerlessness. In its aesthetic dimension, suspension corresponds to the principle of incompletion of a work; in its psychosociological dimension, it refers to waiting. Sound signals and sonic punctuation ( jingles) are types of tamed suspensions.
T A R T I N I
The Tartini effect refers to the production of a sound that is physiologically audible, but that has no physical existence. It looks like a sonic hologram. In psychoacoustics, this phenomenon is also sometimes described as “combination tones”. This compositional effect exists under very specific conditions: for instance, it is possible to hear a fundamental frequency reconstituted by the ear based on listening to two or more of its harmonics: a mixture of tones of 1000 Hz, 15000 Hz, and 2000 Hz, for example, will “provoke” the sensation of a 500 Hz tone. Although he was not the first to observe this phenomenon, the Italian composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini (1692–1770) is known for his extensive exploitation of this psychoacoustic effect. During the Age of Enlightenment he aroused much curiosity, as is revealed in contemporary dictionaries and treatises on music and harmony, and he remains a fascinating example of unconscious psychic process. The mystery of the effect – according to legend, Tartini had a dream in which his own G minor violin sonata (1713), also known as the “devil’s trill,” was performed for him by Satan – remains a fascination for contemporary audiences, kept alive not only in the performance of Tartini’s compositions but also in electroacoustic works based on the same principle. The psychoacoustic illusion has become a sonic hologram. The magic of this ‘diabolical’ effect still amazes musicians, philanthropists, and thinkers, while inspiring technological and instrument- making research.
U B I Q U I T Y
An effect linked to spatio-temporal conditions that expresses the difficulty or impossibility of locating a sound source. In the major variant of this effect, the sound seems to come from everywhere and from nowhere at the same time. In a minor variant, sound seems to come simultaneously from a singular source and from many sources. Beyond the simple phenomenon of sound reflections that limit localization, the ubiquity effect opens the way to the metaphysical dimension of sound. Diffused, unstable, omnidirectional sound presents an intrinsic tendency toward ubiquity – in fact it is impossible to delimit or materialize the “location” of a sound. Inversely, the notion of ubiquity, immaterial in principle, could not be better evoked than by sound – it cannot be seen, it does not “manifest” itself, and it uses other sensorial channels to be revealed, among which hearing seems to predominate. There is therefore a fundamental link between sound and ubiquity. Certain sounds are in fact more “present” than others: any “sound background” – an urban drone, the purring of a machine in a reverberant room, or the bodily hum of an organism – can be described as a ubiquitous sound in the very literal sense that it comes from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But these different sounds do not produce an effect; rather, they are characterized by the fact that we forget them and no longer hear them. The sound itself is ubiquitous, but there is no ubiquity effect. For the ubiquity effect to occur, we must consciously look for the source location of the sound, and fail, at least for a moment, to identify it.