Download Aural Architecture - Sound Design For Architecture

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Greek Revival architecture wikipedia , lookup

Deconstructivism wikipedia , lookup

Sustainable architecture wikipedia , lookup

English Gothic architecture wikipedia , lookup

Constructivist architecture wikipedia , lookup

Ancient Greek architecture wikipedia , lookup

Modern architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architect wikipedia , lookup

International Style (architecture) wikipedia , lookup

Expressionist architecture wikipedia , lookup

Professional requirements for architects wikipedia , lookup

Georgian architecture wikipedia , lookup

French architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of Indonesia wikipedia , lookup

History of architecture wikipedia , lookup

East-East wikipedia , lookup

Contemporary architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of Mongolia wikipedia , lookup

Russian architecture wikipedia , lookup

Postmodern architecture wikipedia , lookup

Korean architecture wikipedia , lookup

Ottoman architecture wikipedia , lookup

History of business architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of the Philippines wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of Germany wikipedia , lookup

Neoclassical architecture wikipedia , lookup

Structuralism (architecture) wikipedia , lookup

Spanish architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of the night wikipedia , lookup

Bernhard Hoesli wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of the United States wikipedia , lookup

Women in architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of India wikipedia , lookup

Gothic secular and domestic architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architecture of the United Kingdom wikipedia , lookup

Mathematics and architecture wikipedia , lookup

Sacred architecture wikipedia , lookup

Architectural theory wikipedia , lookup

Architecture wikipedia , lookup

This article is presented as an introductory excerpt from Aural Architecture
published by MIT Press.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Aural Architecture (part 3 of 3)
The aural architecture of many modern spaces is created by architects,
space planners, and interior designers—professionals with little
appreciation for the subtle aural impact of their choices. Living rooms,
restaurants, and automobiles are examples of such spaces. Individuals
function as aural architects when selecting a seat at a restaurant,
organizing a living space, or positioning loudspeakers. From the broadest
perspective, we are all aural architects. Aural architecture is not the
exclusive domain of a handful of acoustic professionals who have an
opportunity to design classrooms, concert halls, or churches.
Broadening the concept of aural architecture still further, we include the
creation of spatial experiences where a physical space does not actually
exist, so called virtual, phantom, and illusory spaces. While listening to
recorded music in our homes, we experience a virtual space created by a
mixing engineer who manipulated a spatial synthesizer in his recording
studio. There never was a performance space. By defining aural
architecture as the design or selection of a spatial experience, without
regard to the means of implementing that experience, a wide diversity of
social and artistic examples in cultures spanning thousands of years can
be embraced. Aural architecture is as old as civilization.
Even though an aural architect is a cultural abstraction, we can still
examine how social and culture forces influence spatial designs. Over the
millennia, a series of progressive changes in the relationship between
aural architecture and its social use resulted from an evolution in artistic
attitudes, changes in the prevailing theology, and shifts in the way that
the senses were used to experience physical and social environments. The
difference between adapting a cave for a multi-media religious ceremony
and designing a consumer home theater surround-sound system reflects
not only advances in technology, but also changes in culture. Those aural
architects who built cathedrals, and those who designed virtual electroacoustic spaces, were not necessarily aware of how their social context
influenced their spatial creations.
To discuss aural architecture requires the development of a
comprehensive symbolic and abstract language. Thousands of visual
artists, civil engineers, architectural historians, and social scientists have
already created that language for visual architecture, and the literature is
rich and extensive. The intellectual foundation for visual architecture
draws upon archeology, engineering, history, sociology, anthropology,
evolution, psychology, and science. Aural architecture is based on the
same intellectual foundation as visual architecture, but the corresponding
literature is sparse, fragmented, and embryonic.
There are many explanations for the lack of concepts, research, and
vocabulary on the subject of aural architecture. First, aural experiences of
space are fleeting, and we lack means for storing their cultural and
intellectual legacy in museums, journals, and archives. Second, for both
cultural and biological reasons, the language for describing sound is weak
and inadequate. Third, as some have argued, modern culture is
fundamentally oriented toward visual communications without a
corresponding appreciation for the emotional importance of hearing.
Fourth, questions about aural architecture are not generally recognized as
a legitimate domain for intellectual inquiry because professional schools
provide little or no training in physical acoustics, aural aesthetics, or
sensory sociology. Fifth, while the aural experience of a space depends
strongly on the nature of sound sources, a visual scene is only weakly
dependent on the nature of its illumination. Any light is sufficient to make
details visible, but inconsistent sound sources are insufficient for
experiencing aural architecture. Lastly, because appreciating an art form
is mostly an acquired sensibility, investing in aural architecture requires
that the culture value the art of auditory spatial awareness.
Aural architecture is not a recognized discipline, and for that reason, its
concepts are not a significant part of our cultural and intellectual
mainstream. When professional architects focus exclusively on the visual
and utilitarian attributes of a space, they are reflecting a tradition that
devalues listening. More significantly, when listeners tolerate an
environment with destructive acoustics, damaging either their auditory
apparatus or their social connections, they too are devaluing the aural
There are, however, segments of our culture that take an interest in aural
architecture. When given the freedom to choose the aural attributes of a
spatial experience, audio engineers, composers, acoustic scientists, and
spatial designers function as aural architects. There are conspicuous and
representative examples of artists and architects who explicitly focus on
aural architecture. Pallasmaa (1996), the Finnish architect who rejected
the assumption of visual dominance, considered sensory architecture as
an umbrella theme that explicitly included aural architecture. Schafer
(1977), in formulating the concept of the soundscape as a mixture of
aural architecture and sound sources, created disciples who have
passionately extended and applied his initial concept. Sheridan and van
Lengen (2003) suggested that architectural schools should intentionally
include aural considerations in order “to achieve a richer, more satisfying
built environment.” When Bagenal and Wood (1931) published their
treatise on spatial acoustics, they recognized the social and cultural
aspects of aural architecture.
The aural architecture of musical spaces, unlike religious, political, and
social spaces, is well recognized and extensively researched. When
considered as part of music, a musical space becomes an extension of
instruments, rather than an independent manifestation of aural
architecture. It then becomes a tool to be used by other artists:
composers, musicians, and conductors. Musical spaces are intentionally
designed for specific audiences that have acquired sensitivity and
appreciation for spatial acoustics, but chiefly with music and voice. Musical
spaces are also an interesting application of aural architecture because
music has played a role far beyond that of entertainment, a role anchored
in history, culture, evolution, and neurobiology. Like architecture, music is
also a language of aesthetics, spirituality, patriotism, and especially the
emotions of joy, love, pride, sadness, and so forth. Although they do not
identify themselves as such, many aural architects are found within audio
and musical subcultures. Our knowledge of musical spaces, however, is
also applicable to other kinds of space.
Even within a given culture, people are not homogeneous with regard to
their use of their senses. When a group of individuals share a similar
relationship to some aspect of aural architecture, they become a relatively
homogenous group, which we call a sensory subculture. We find sensory
subcultures both within a culture, and across cultures. Active users of
particular kinds of spaces often become a unique sensory subculture if
they share goals, motivation, genetic ability, and opportunities for shared
experiences. They teach themselves to attend to those spatial attributes
that they consider important. From this perspective, those with an active
interest in music—performers, composers, and listeners—form a sensory
subculture with an enhanced sensitivity to those aspects of aural
architecture that apply to their music. Those blind individuals who orient
and navigate a space by listening to objects and geometries form another
sensory subculture. The experience of aural architecture depends on the
individual’s subculture.
By accepting the concept of sensory subcultures, we branch into a related
kind of social grouping: professional subcultures composed of individuals
who study, design, or manipulate spatial attributes for the purpose of
creating aural experiences for others. Often they do not realize that they
are functioning as aural architects. The list of such subcultures, to name
but a few, includes ancient shamans who performed ceremonies in caves,
recording engineers who use virtual space simulators as part of the
production process, cinema film directors who match or contrast the visual
and auditory experience of space, social psychologists who study human
behavior, and designers of ceremonial spaces who want the congregation
to feel a connection with their deities and their heavenly cosmos. Each of
these professional subcultures is unique in terms of their educational
training, cultural beliefs, specialized goals, economic rewards, and private
agendas. Aural architecture is mostly the result of the values and biases in
these professional subcultures.
In one sense, the concept of aural architecture is nothing more than an
intellectual edifice built from knowledge bricks that were borrowed from
dozens of disciplinary subcultures and thousands of scholars and
researchers. I did not create these bricks, all of which appear in published
papers. However, when fused together into a single concept, the marriage
of aural architecture and auditory spatial awareness provides a way to
explore our aural connection to the spaces built by man and nature. This
book is the story of that marriage over the centuries in a variety of
cultures and subcultures, and today’s artists and scientists are the
children of the union.
Individuals who use spaces for a particular purpose, and individuals who
design spaces for a particular use, often acquire a heightened sensitivity
to particular aspects of aural architecture. Auditory spatial awareness is a
multiplicity of related but independent abilities. Although evolution
provided our species with the basic neurobiology for hearing space, each
sensory and professional subculture emphasizes only a subset of this
endowment. Conversely, those who are neither users nor designers of
aural architecture are unlikely to display more than the basic abilities to
hear space. Furthermore, cultures without any appreciation for aural
experiences are unlikely to develop and support those subcultures with an
interest in aural architecture.
This book is written for three types of reader. First, for those professionals
who possess an expertise in one of the supporting disciplines, the
discussions provide an overview into related, and possibly unfamiliar,
areas. Second, for those with a general curiosity, the discussion integrates
the collective knowledge of many artists, designers, and scientists into an
accessible presentation of aural architecture. And finally, for those with a
love of music, the discussions explore aural architecture as an extension
of the auditory arts.
As an intellectual mosaic, this book explores auditory spatial awareness
and its relationship to aural architecture. Discussions move from cave
acoustics to home theater, from evolution to neurobiology, from physics to
perception, from science to engineering, from physical to virtual spaces,
and from physical sound to emotional response. This book does not
require expertise in any of the relevant specialties, and it will not make
the reader an expert. Rather, it is intended to provide a means of
capturing and merging disparate knowledge into a common framework:
the human condition as seen through one particular prism, the aural
architecture of spaces.
(1) In some restaurants, the conflict between aural and visual architecture
may be intentional. Aural unpleasantness induces dinners to leave sooner
rather than lingering, which then increases the economic return for the
(2) While there are grammatical constructs in English that avoid genderbiased pronouns, they are often tedious or awkward. Please accept that
references to he, him, or his do not imply the gender of the person.
Sheridan, T, and van Lengen, K. (2003). Hearing architecture: exploring
and designing the aural environment. Journal of Architectural Education.
Classen, C. (1993). World of Senses. Exploring the Senses in History and
across Culture. New York: Routledge.
Howes, D. (ed.) (1991). The Varieties of Sensor Experience. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press.
Ritchie, I. (1991). Fusion of the faculties: a study of the language of the
senses in Hausaland. In D. Howes, (ed.), The Varieties of Sensor
Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Seeger, A. (1981). Nature and Society in Central Brazil: The Suya Indians
of Mato Grosso. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Carpenter, E. (1955). Eskimo space concepts. Explorations 5:131-145.
Pallasmaa, J. (1996). The Eyes of the Skin. Architecture and the Senses.
London: Academy Group.
Schafer, R. (1977). The Soundscape. Our Sonic Environment and The
Tuning of the World. New York: Alfred Knopf.
Bagenal, H. and Wood, A. (1931). Planning for Good Acoustics. New York:
Dutton & Co.
Dr. Barry Blesser has spent the last 40 years exploring the influence of
cognitive and perceptual psychology on the design and implementation of
technology. His doctoral thesis, the perception of spectrally rotated
speech, conclusively demonstrated the existence of a variety of cognitive
strategies that are available for decoding speech. As one of the pioneers
of digital audio technology during the 1970s, he transformed his fantasy
of a portable concert hall into the first commercial artificial reverberation
system, which was used extensively in the creation of recorded and
broadcast music. He demonstrated the relevance of perceptual strategies
in his study of the diagnostic accuracy of medical radiologists. In the early
1980s, his research on how humans read handprint resulted in the
creation of a startup company that developed an automated recognition
While Dr. Blesser has focused on creating and implementing technology as
a technical and management consultant, he also integrates the arts and
social sciences into the design process. As an independent scholar, he has
spent the last 5 years researching the new concept of aural architecture,
which led to his current passion: the social consequences of functional
deafness when in corrosive acoustic environments. Acoustics is an
inseparable combination of the hard and soft sciences. See also his
extended biography for more information.
Dr. Linda-Ruth Salter was a pioneer in crossing discipline boundaries
when she obtained a Ph.D. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Boston
University in 1984. Her doctoral dissertation examined the nature of
sacred space in secular societies. Additional research showed the
significance of place and spatial memory in maintaining group identity. Dr.
Salter has consulted in the area of research and planning for a successful
built environment in public housing, educational and business spaces, and
has taught urban studies at Boston University. As a consequence of living
in Asia, studying Sumi-ink painting, and her interest in the symbolic
meaning of material culture, Dr. Salter created a specialty in promoting
historic indigenous crafts by founding an international Asian fine arts
business. Recently, Dr. Salter co-authored the first scholarly article on
Qing Dynasty belt ornaments, which emphasized their symbolic and social
role in Chinese society.
Presently she is Asst. Professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences at
New England Institute of Technology, where she contributes to the fine
and performing arts curriculum in a technology context. Fusing and
integrating the fine arts, technology, and social science is her specialty.
You can contact Dr. Blesser at [email protected]