I've been wrestling with some language in a couple of recent posts (here and here) to make a point about the perception of sound within time. I used the term 'time-laden' , and talked about the perceptual shift required to recognize a piece of music - more generically, a sonic event - not as a sequence of unfolding events within time, but as an architectural object that can be considered as a single, a solid.
A spectrogram is a good visual cue. The spectrogram shows change in frequency over time. Compared to the waveform, which shows the change in amplitude over time. Amplitude may change over time while frequency remains constant over time. So what remains constant if time changes?
I'm guided here by the classic text Flatland. A Square, habituated to life in a two dimensional world, meets a Cube. This mysterious being can appear in the middle of closed rooms, and can speak of unnatural concepts like the 'center' of a Square. The Cube is benevolent, and allows the Square to learn what is known as the Argument from Analogy of Figures. The Square repeats his lesson:
- In One Dimension, did not a moving Point produce a Line with two terminal points?
- In Two DImensions, did not a moving Line produce a Square with Four terminal points?
- In Three Dimensions, did not a moving Square produce - did not mine eye behold it - that blessed Being, a Cube, with eight terminal points?
The Cube's benevolance finds a limit, when the Square comes up with this:
- And in Fourr dimensions, shall not a moving Cube result in a still more divine Organization with sixteen terminal points.
The Square is locked in jail (doodled on the back of an envelope, perhaps).
What I have been calling Kinaesthetics, I hope will evolve into language that explains, activates, demonstrates an experience of sound that is to our casual listening what the cube is to the square. The sonic event could be a familiar piece of music. It could be 'noise' (another word I struggle with definition). It could be the sound of a railway engine, or the echo of landscape,
We perceive sound in linear chronology I suspect because our physiology resides in that same 'time-laden' chronology. Fueled by metabolism, our bodies exist and consciously perceive a slice of the Present., but only the Present. It is a Tyranny of Habituation. But just as the Cube is a single entity viewed in slices by the 2D square, we are equally limited in our perception of objects as they unfold in time.
Sound has a peculiar privilege in the human. Sound impacts the physiology directly as energy waves in air. Sound also acts as a seed object for the precipitation or accretion of meaning. The unit of meaning is Memory - in Psychogeography I've referred to this as a Quidd. The fundamental aspect of the universe is vibration. Through the Principles of Sonicism (the mechanics of Transduction), sound creates a liminal interface to this vibration.