The emotional contents of the ‘space’ in spatial music

Conference item


Lennox, Peter 2009. The emotional contents of the ‘space’ in spatial music. International Conference on Music and Emotion, Durham, UK.
AuthorsLennox, Peter
Abstract

Human 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.

Human 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.

KeywordsSpatial composition; Spatial audition; Spatial music; Emotion
Year2009
PublisherInternational Conference on Music and Emotion, Durham, UK
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/347428
hdl:10545/347428
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Publication datesSep 2009
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Deposited01 Apr 2015, 14:00
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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