Sound and sign

Gabriele Proy
2002 Organised Sound  
In discussing different sound environments -sound in the field of art as well as sound in the context of our daily sonic environment -this article makes reference to semiotic theories. Sound without source. Electroacoustic media shape our perceptive realities. There are multiple tools available to record and reproduce sound, but is it possible to handle the fleeting nature of sound, the escape of sound? Certainly there are tools to manipulate sound, to create new soundscapes in this way. We can
more » ... generate virtual soundscapes -projecting soundscapes via speakers, via headphones in a new context -but what are we listening to? Every sound evokes images. The concept of 'musique acousmatique', according to Franc ¸ois Bayle, amplifies Pierre Schaeffer's notion of the 'objet sonore'. 'Musique acousmatique' refers to sound projection, and thus to our imagination while concentrating on listening. In listening to acousmatic music, we can find three tonal levels, and this tripartite concept of listening refers to the tripartite semiotic concept introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce. Finally, sound affects us emotionally. In contradiction to the term 'objet sonore', the term 'sound event' coined by R. Murray Schafer stresses the necessity to analyse sound in its context. It is the sonic environment which determines the meaning of the 'sound event'. Thus, from my point of view, the concept of soundscape can be compared with Ferdinand de Saussure's semiotic theory about the arbitrary meaning of signs. Signs are determined by their systems. Semiotic concepts offer an interesting approach to sound perception. Let's listen to soundscapes before sound escapes.
doi:10.1017/s1355771802001036 fatcat:ns5tldqxnjhqhd7pmrkv4dec6i