Conference paper Open Access

Perceptual factors contributing to the identity of sound gestures

Lembke, Sven-Amin

Sound gestures assume an important role in electroacoustic music (Smalley 1997). Studies on sound-to-gesture relations have revealed valuable insights, but still more fundamental research related to electroacoustic practice is necessary and was here addressed by two perceptual experiments. Using the meso and micro timescales proposed by Gødoy (2006), two questions were explored: 1) what information does a gesture convey at the meso level, and 2) how do signal features at the micro level affect gestural properties?

Experimental findings illustrate how meso-level gestural identity depends on features encoded in the micro-level signal structure. For one, important properties of gestural shape and curvature were informed by the physical scales underlying micro-level processes. How gestures evolve over time can be argued to represent aesthetic aspects in their own right, which go beyond simple gestural categories like ‘upward’ or ‘downward’. Furthermore, micro structure contains signal features that relate to both gestural and other potential signifiers. Whereas clear source bonds (Smalley 1997) do not rule out gestural perception, the experimental findings still suggest that such strong bonds can detract from identifying gestures in real-world sounds.

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