Three Articles

I posted this to the wrong blog…

1. Akio Suzuki’s Empty Circles – I like Suzuki’s selection of sound spaces, but I would like to extend that to natural settings. While I realize that Suzuki wanted locations that were rife with familiar sounds in the hopes of discovering new sounds, I just thought it would be nice to extend this outside of the city limits in an effort to discover surprising sounds in nature. The natural world, while not as diverse as a cityscape, is far more subtle and I’d like to see where that would go. The inspiration came from an experience I had when I was younger where I was situated on a small wooden outpost in the middle of a swamp. It was a tiny thing, no more than 6×4, that you had to wade through a deep bog to get to. As it was only slightly above the water level, you could see only slightly above the sawgrass and mangroves. I remember sitting out there listening to the space around me because I was interested in seeing any wildlife. After all, disturbed water could have been a heron taking flight or a snake trying to get on top of the stand! I think you could recreate “empty circles” in a natural park/forest or other similar environment where a hiker or birdwatcher could stand in a space and listen.

2. As I am a music theory TA, I thought it appropriate to show some Schenkerian and Roman numeral analysis as a form of ‘unsaid’ communication. This tells the initiated reader a great deal about Beethoven’s compositional structure, his key relationships, and his structural language. However, it also says more about motion, transformation, and repetition that is not so explicit even to a linear analysis initiate. Scheknerian analysis also assumes some axiomatic principles that remain unsaid in the actual work (much like mathematics makes use of axioms) such as the tonic-dominant dichotomy and the presence of a fundamental melodic line.  

3. I decided to watch muted videos of computer games being played with the intention of seeing if I can follow what is happening without hearing any audio cues at all. I watched several genres, top-down real-time strategy, first person shooter, and first-person fantasy role-playing, and I expected that I would be frustrated at the lack of sound. I figured that I would not be able to understand what is happening. However, it was quite surprising that I still found it somewhat enjoyable to watch. Given that video games are an all about creating interactive experiences and have a huge visual component, it was not surprising to me that the gameplay still entertaining. Since you are not as concerned with explicit communication when watching a “Let’s Play” so much as getting a feel for what a game looks like, it would follow that the enjoyment of the experience was not terribly hindered by the lack of sound. I then tried to play a similar game silently, and found it somewhat possible to still follow (as the game was a bit text-heavy) though it was certainly becoming irritating before long to lose so many cues. It also takes away from the immersion and makes for an unpleasant experience.

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