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Extreme close-up in the movie "The Big Swallow" (1901) by James Williamson (1855-1933)
Extreme close-up in the movie "The Big Swallow" (1901) by James Williamson (1855-1933)

"Cratylus and Hermogenes illuminate the two positions [in the sound symbolism debate]. On the one hand the naturalists, i.e. believers in what is nowadays known as sound symbolism, on the other the conventionalists, the non-believers of said theory. The extreme of their arguments go something like this: if sound symbolism were true, if ‘the sound of a word affects its meaning, then you should be able to tell what a word means just by hearing it. There should be only one language.’ (Magnus, 2013). Because this is manifestly not the case, naturalists are believed to be wrong. The naturalists’ evidence has been scarcer and it has been the poets who have come to their aid making for convincing but always anecdotal evidence. As Anatoly Liberman (born 1937) notes: ‘Consider the English words “glow, gleam, glimmer, glare, glisten, glitter, glacier, and glide.” They suggest that in English the combination gl- conveys the idea of sheen and smoothness. Against this background, glory, glee and glib emanate brightness by their very form, glance and glimpse reinforce our conclusion (because eyesight is inseparable from light), and glib has no other choice than to denote specious luster, and, indeed, in the sixteenth century, when it became known in English, it meant “smooth and slippery.”’"--"Meaning, Sound and Vision" by J.-W. Geerinck

The Bouba/kiki effect (1929)
This page Sound is part of the music series.Illustration: Sheet music to "Buffalo Gals" (c. 1840), a traditional song.Maxim: "writing about music is like dancing about architecture".
This page Sound is part of the music series.
Illustration: Sheet music to "Buffalo Gals" (c. 1840), a traditional song.
Maxim: "writing about music is like dancing about architecture".
This page Sound is part of the medium specificity series.  Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
This page Sound is part of the medium specificity series.
Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884), a composition by Alphonse Allais consisting of nine blank measures. It predates the comparable work by John Cage ("4′33″") by a considerable margin.
Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884), a composition by Alphonse Allais consisting of nine blank measures. It predates the comparable work by John Cage ("4′33″") by a considerable margin.
Page from "Letter on the Deaf and Dumb" which illustrates Denis Diderot's take on medium specificity
Page from "Letter on the Deaf and Dumb" which illustrates Denis Diderot's take on medium specificity
Cover of the brochure of the "Entartete Musik" exhibition
Cover of the brochure of the "Entartete Musik" exhibition

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Sound is a sensation perceived by the ear caused by the vibration of air or some other medium.

It can also refer to a distinctive style and sonority of a particular musician and orchestra.

Sound is the opposite of silence.



From Latin sonus.



Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses").

The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to individual interpretation, and occasionally controversial. Within the arts, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and auditory art. It may also be divided among art music and folk music. There is also a strong connection between music and mathematics. Music may be played and heard live, may be part of a dramatic work or film, or may be recorded.

To many people in many cultures, music is an important part of their way of life. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as "the harmony of the spheres" and "it is music to my ears" point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."



Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound (including speech and music). It can be further categorized as a branch of psychophysics.



Hearing (or audition) is one of the traditional five senses, and refers to the ability to detect sound. In humans and other vertebrates, hearing is performed primarily by the auditory system: sound is detected by the ear and transduced into nerve impulses that are perceived by the brain.

Like touch, audition requires sensitivity to the movement of molecules in the world outside the organism. Both hearing and touch are types of mechanosensation.

Natural sounds

Natural sounds

Natural sounds are sounds produced by natural sources in their normal soundscape. It is a category whose definition is open for discussion, see the section below. The category includes the sounds of any living organism, from insect larvae to the largest living mammal on the planet, whales, and those generated by natural, non-biological sources. In most respects, the natural habitats from which these acoustic sources emanate, are defined as not heavily impacted by human intervention.

Sound poetry

sound poetry

Sound poetry is a form of literary or musical composition in which the phonetic aspects of human speech are foregrounded at the expense of more conventional semantic and syntactic values; "verse without words". By definition, sound poetry is intended primarily for performance.

Sound art

sound art

From the Western art historical tradition early examples include Luigi Russolo's Intonarumori or noise intoners, and subsequent experiments by Dadaists, Surrealists, the Situationist International, and in Fluxus happenings. Because of the diversity of sound art, there is often debate about whether sound art falls within the domain of either the visual art or experimental music categories, or both. Other artistic lineages from which sound art emerges are conceptual art, minimalism, site-specific art, sound poetry, spoken word, avant-garde poetry, and experimental theatre.



A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology. The idea of soundscape refers to both the natural acoustic environment, consisting of natural sounds, including animal vocalizations and, for instance, the sounds of weather and other natural elements; and environmental sounds created by humans, through musical composition, sound design, and other ordinary human activities including conversation, work, and sounds of mechanical origin resulting from use of industrial technology. The term "soundscape" can also refer to an audio recording or performance of sounds that create the sensation of experiencing a particular acoustic environment, or compositions created using the found sounds of an acoustic environment, either exclusively or in conjunction with musical performances.

Sound culture

sound culture

The first seminal contributions in sound studies could be considered the books of R. Murray Schafer The Tuning of the World (1977) and of Jacques Attali Noise: The Political Economy of Music (1985).

Current important contributions also are Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco's Analog Days (2002); Jonathan Sterne's Audible Past (2003), Emily Thompson's The Soundscape of Modernity (2002) and Temples of Sound (2003).

Sound film

sound film

A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but it would be decades before reliable synchronization was made commercially practical. The first commercial screening of movies with fully synchronized sound took place in New York City in April 1923. In the early years after the introduction of sound, films incorporating synchronized dialogue were known as "talking pictures," or "talkies." The first feature-length movie originally presented as a talkie was The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927.

Sound recording

sound recording

Sound recording and reproduction is the electrical or mechanical inscription and playback of sound waves, usually used for the voice or for music. The first practical sound recording and reproduction device was the mechanical phonograph cylinder, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 and patented in 1878. The invention soon spread across the globe and over the next two decades the commercial recording, distribution and sale of sound recordings became a growing new international industry, with the most popular titles selling millions of units by the early 1900s. The development of mass production techniques enabled cylinder recordings to become a major new consumer item in industrial countries and the cylinder was the main consumer format from the late 1880s until around 1910.

Sound sculpture

sound sculpture

Sound sculpture (related to sound art and sound installation) is an intermedia and time based art form in which sculpture or any kind of art object produces sound, or the reverse (in the sense that sound is manipulated in such a way as to create a sculptural as opposed to temporal form or mass). Most often sound sculpture artists were primarily either visual artists or composers, not having started out directly making sound sculpture. Cymatics and kinetic art has influenced sound sculpture. Sound sculpture is sometimes site-specific.

Sound symbolism

sound symbolism

In linguistics, sound symbolism or phonosemantics is the idea that vocal sounds or phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves.

In the 18th century, Mikhail Lomonosov propagated a theory that words containing the front vowel sounds E, I, YU should be used when depicting tender subjects and those with back vowel sounds O, U, Y when describing things that may cause fear ("like anger, envy, pain, and sorrow").

However, it is Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) who is considered to be the founder of modern 'scientific' linguistics. Central to what de Saussure says about words are two related statements: First, he says that "the sign is arbitrary". He considers the words that we use to indicate things and concepts could be any words — they are essentially just a consensus agreed upon by the speakers of a language and have no discernible pattern or relationship to the thing. (This was not an entirely new concept. As early as 1595 Shakespeare included the line "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" in his play Romeo and Juliet.) Thus, the sounds themselves have no linguistic meaning. Second, he says that, because words are arbitrary, they have meaning only in relation to other words. A dog is a dog because it is not a cat or a mouse or a horse, etc. These ideas have permeated the study of words since the 19th century.

Saussure himself is said to have collected examples where sounds and referents were related. Ancient traditions link sounds and meaning, and some modern linguistic research does also.



Silence is a relative or total lack of sound. An environment with sound below 20 decibels is considered quiet or silent. Languages such as German have the verb schweigen[1] for being silent, or shutting up.



In common use the word noise means unwanted sound. In electronics noise can refer to the electronic signal corresponding to acoustic noise (in an audio system) or the electronic signal corresponding to the (visual) noise commonly seen as 'snow' on a degraded television or video image. In signal processing or computing it can be considered data without meaning; that is, data that is not being used to transmit a signal, but is simply produced as an unwanted by-product of other activities. In information theory, however, noise is still considered to be information. In a broader sense, film grain or even advertisements in web pages can be considered noise.

Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds

Ocean of Sound

Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds (1995) is a music theory book written by British author David Toop and published by Serpent's Tail.

It is Toop's second book and is centered on ambient music which he defines as music that "taps into the disturbing, chaotic undertow of the environment". As an aural companion to the book.

According to AllMusic's John Bush, all of the songs compiled for the album recapitulate the theme of the book—"that Les Baxter, Aphex Twin, The Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, King Tubby and My Bloody Valentine are all related by their effect on sound pioneering."

A two-CD set was released with the book in early 1996.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sound" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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