Hearing-in: Philosophical perspectives on sounds and sonification, 10 Oct

Sunday 28 September 2014


Friday 10 October 2014, 12:30 - 18:30
Room 104, Senate House, WC1
Hearing-in: Philosophical perspectives on sounds and sonification
Speakers: Chris Chafe (Stanford) Josef Parvizi (Stanford) Nick Bearman (Liverpool) Paul Vickers (Northumbria)

We commonly use non-speech sounds to learn about their sources: Hearing a car horn, for instance, warns us that a car is coming, and where it is coming from. When we listen to a piece of music, we rarely turn our interest to the properties of sounds themselves, in such a way that the sounds stop representing an independent object. What should we then think of the new techniques where sound properties are used to represent scientific data - and not sources? Does sonification require a new kind of listening, or does it compare to musical listening?

The new methods of “sonification” use either direct data-to-sounds mappings, or more interpretative mappings, to transform data relations into perceptible relations in the acoustic signal. Sonified data are especially useful to reveal dynamic patterns in phenomena such as traffic, seismic waves or brain activity. They also manage to tell us something about other properties of these phenomena, for instance, whether a brain is functioning well or not. 

Despite its recent progress, sonification has not yet been the object of philosophical attention. This workshop aims to examine some the theoretical challenges raised by sonification, and to explore the relevance of specific examples for our philosophical understanding of auditory and music perception, and of scientific inference and representation.

Full programme details and registration