AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractHuman spatial perception is how we understand places. Beyond understanding what is where (William James’ formulation of the psychological approach to perception); there are holistic qualities to places. We perceive places as busy, crowded, exciting, threatening or peaceful, calm, comfortable and so on. Designers of places spend a great deal of time and effort on these qualities; scientists rarely do. In the scientific world-view physical qualities and our emotive responses to them are neatly divided in the objective-subjective dichotomy. In this context, music has traditionally constituted an item in a place. Over the last two decades, development of “spatial music” has been within the prevailing engineering paradigm, informed by psychophysical data; here, space is an abstract, Euclidean 3-dimensional ‘container’ for events. The emotional consequence of spatial arrangements is not the main focus in this approach. This paper argues that a paradigm shift is appropriate, from ‘music-in-a-place’ to ‘music-as-a-place’ requiring a fundamental philosophical realignment of ‘meaning’ away from subjective response to include consequences-in-the-environment. Hence the hegemony of the subjective-objective dichotomy is questioned. There are precedents for this, for example in the ecological approach to perception (Gibson). An ecological approach to music-as-environment intrinsically treats the emotional consequences of spatio-musical arrangement holistically. A simplified taxonomy of the attributes of artificial spatial sound in this context will be discussed.
TypeMeetings and Proceedings
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