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.

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8 thoughts on “On the Non-Cochlearity of the Sounds Themselves

  1. With all due respect, this reading on the phrase “non-cochlear sound” attends only to the psycho-physical meaning of the phrase and ignores its historical meaning. The phrase piggybacks blatantly on the phrase “non-retinal visual art” as coined by Marcel Duchamp. If we’re going to ignore the conceptual/historical/ social/political aspects of “non-cochlear sound” we should probably come up with another name for the phenomena in question, one that doesn’t carry Duchamp’s baggage.

  2. Hi seth, I was thinking more along the lines of a critique of the empirical bias in various accounts of sound… that the sounds themselves are irretrievably worldly in the first case before we can rationalize them as psycho-physical percepts or even as potential grist for conceptual art. I like your non-cochlear thesis and think sound art brings this worldliness out into the open whereas music for music’s sake can be somewhat insular, I just take a bracketed path through Husserl and phenomenology to get there 🙂

  3. Hi Zeug. My critique above was directed not at your take but at Malcolm Riddoch’s. And specifically at the adoption of the phrase, “non-cochlear” to describe a set of phenomena that would be better served by a different name.

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