Imagining the Sounds Themselves

Malcolm Riddoch investigates the relationship between the auditory imagination and our perception of sound. He states that, from a physical perspective, both imaginary and ex­ternally stimulated sound would seem to be the product of neurological processes. From a phenomenological perspective, however, phenomenal sound is fundamentally something that is heard. This apparent paradox leads Riddoch, via the “hard problem of conscious­ness,” to present and discuss a number of different forms and understandings of “sound” and to eventually posit that the sounds themselves—imagined or externally stimulated—are “nonphysical phenomena disclosed in the lived experience of hearkening to the mean­ingful sounds one hears in the world.”

Malcolm Riddoch. “Imagining the Sounds Themselves.” In The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Imagination, Volume 1. Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard, Mads Walther-Hansen and Martin Knakkergaard eds.: Oxford University Press, 2019-09-26.

On the Non-Cochlearity of the Sounds Themselves

What is non-cochlear sound? This open question is followed by way of an initial explication of the psychophysiology of audition. Non-cochlearity in sound is posited firstly in terms of synaesthesia and the skin and body cavity reception of infrasonic and low frequency sound waves. The auditory imagination is a further example that can produce a perception of sound without any direct acoustic stimulation of either the ear or skin and body. However, one’s imagination still retains a relation to the sounds of the world we live in. From a phenomenological perspective this worldly relation is a fundamental characteristic of sound as something that is heard. On this basis the causality associated with empirical accounts of auditory perception as a product of biological processes are contrasted with an interrogation of sound qua sound. It is posited that the sounds themselves are non-cochlear in the sense of being non-physical phenomena disclosed in the lived experience of hearkening to the meaningful sounds one hears in the world.

Download the proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2012 in Ljubljana Slovenia

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This paper explores the potential for an organicist or relational holistic approach to experimental electroacoustic music composition that is indeterminate with respect to performance. It follows a phenomenological interpretation of the musical work as the product of dynamic, temporal or relational processes involving the performers, their instruments, the sounds themselves, the whole acoustic space and the audience. An analysis of an electroacoustic composition and Decibel ensemble performance is offered for which organic indeterminacy is described in terms of a performative openness towards the creation of experimental music.

Presented at the Australasian Computer Music Conference 2011 in Auckland NZ

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