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Voices on the wind: Compositional Approaches to the identification and Interrogation of Meaning in the Soundscape

Author(s): Marcus Jonathan Leadley

Journal: SoundEffects
ISSN 1904-500X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 117;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Sound | Environment | Utterance | Language | Hearing | Installation | Aural | Dialogic

@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.FootnoteTextChar { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } In this paper I explore the relationship between environmental sound, perception and utterance. I identify meaning as a property of utterance, the situated instance of language use, and locate its presence in the soundscape as a point of reference for all humans that constitute a particular acoustic community. My starting point is the premise that our experience of aural space and the soundscape are so profoundly connected to our experience of what it is to be human that there is a direct relationship, established over millennia, between the environments in which communication takes place and the ways in which we communicate. Further to this, I suggest that sound is the binding agent in a dialogic relationship between consciousness, environment and context. I argue that this binding operates through a process in which differing degrees of awareness and recognition of soundscape features, structures and inter-relations facilitate a shift between basic hearing functions and more informed modes of listening. This leads, in turn, to expression through mimicry, performativity and utterance. In other words, the dialogic characteristic of the relationship is located in the reciprocity between hearing, speaking and environmental phenomena.   The central hypothesis of this paper states that, without sound binding us into this dialogic relationship with environment and context, we would not have been able to develop inter-human sounds in order to function as social beings. I argue that this relationship underpins the formation of linguistic tools that both help structure, and provide access to the perceptual and conceptual knowledge of the world that we store in memory. This combined knowledge structure informs both our external engagements and sense of self. Both my initial premise and hypothesis are supported by theoretical and practical research, including participant observation and feedback from a series of sound installations designed to progress the inquiry.
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